Village clerks are like baseball umpires, in a way. You know they are doing their job well when you don't notice them.
In the race for Buffalo Grove village clerk, however, one of the candidates has made a habit of attracting the spotlight.
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Activist and nationally known atheist Rob Sherman is challenging incumbent Clerk Janet Sirabian in the April 5 election for the post she's held 32 years.
Sherman insists he would not use the clerk's office as a bully pulpit for his views on religion. Nor would he step down from the dais at village meetings to offer public comment, in the manner of former Trustee Lisa Stone.
Any input on local issues, he said, he could impart to incoming village president Jeffrey Braiman, who is running uncontested to take over for current Village President Elliott Hartstein.
But Sherman's notoriety is an issue in the community as the election draws near. And many, including Sherman's opponent, are raising the issue of his 1998 arrest on charges he struck his then 16-year-old son, Rick.
"I believe that character and integrity and honesty are the most important characteristics anyone can possess, and are especially important in our elected officials and community leaders," Sirabian said. "I do not claim to be perfect, but I do believe that my character and integrity and honesty are superior to that of my opponent."
Sherman was found guilty of misdemeanor domestic battery and initially sentenced to two years conditional discharge after the 1998 arrest. He later was sentenced to four months in the Cook County jail for failing to participate satisfactorily in domestic violence counseling.
Sherman insists the arrest, conviction and time spent in jail were wrongful, describing himself as the victim of a Kafka-esque chain of events. He admits to slapping his son, after the teen disobeyed his order to baby-sit a younger sister, but says it was "corporal punishment," not abuse.
"I didn't abuse him," Sherman said, "I didn't beat him up. None of that sensationalistic (stuff)."
Sirabian has claimed Sherman's continued defense of his actions nearly 13 years later shows disdain for law enforcement.
"With regard to his arrest for beating his son, he indicates that the arresting officer was just getting back at him because of his nonreligious beliefs," Sirabian said in a statement this week. "This indicates to me that he has little regard for our police department, as well as our judicial system. His opinions do not coincide with wanting to be an elected government official."