Gail Borden election focus on midterm trustee
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The Gail Borden Public Library trustee who has received the most attention this election season is one of only two who will not be on the ballot. Randy Hopp — recently in the news for domestic battery charges, a ban from Judson University's library as well as a continuing ban from the Gail Borden — is not up for re-election until 2013, a fact that has led to plenty of campaign discussion on its own.
A three-member slate of candidates — Victor LaPorte, Penny Wegman and Richard Wallett — have not so subtly made the vow to treat all board members "with the respect they deserve" a major focus of their campaign.
LaPorte, speaking for all three, said they do not know Hopp personally but have a favorable opinion of him based on his conduct at board meetings.
"His behavior at those board meetings was not out of order," LaPorte said. "On the other hand, others on the board were speaking to him in a disrespectful and goading manner."
Wallett and Wegman did not return phone calls to comment on this story.
While some candidates — like incumbents Herb Gross and Lisa Knight, as well as challenger Vern Tepe — have called for Hopp's resignation on the campaign trail, LaPorte said the slate does not think the trustee should be compelled to do so.
"There is nothing I saw at any of the meetings that he attended that would lead me to believe he can't do his job," LaPorte said.
Tepe, though he got the same impression as LaPorte from board meetings, said Hopp's personal life taints his service.
"I think if he truly loves this library and has respect for the people who elected him, it is time for him to resign," Tepe said.
Though it has been rumored LaPorte, Wallett and Wegman want to revisit Hopp's ban from the library if elected to the board, LaPorte said that is not true. The focus, he said, is on civility moving forward.
Mohammad Iqbal, an Elgin attorney and board contender, said no matter who is elected the board will not have jurisdiction to reopen the case for Hopp's library privileges.
He said from his own observations at board meetings, Hopp has made proceedings more difficult based on his own anger. Iqbal said he could be the one to bring the contrasting sides together as a trustee.
Jean Bednar and Rick McCarthy, both incumbents who have served with Hopp for years, said the ban was fair and deserving.
"We've got a set of rules that everybody has got to follow," McCarthy said. "He violated the rules so he gets the same treatment that anybody else would get."
When Hopp's ban is up in 2012, it will be up to that future board to decide whether to renew it — like trustees have done three times since 2009 — or allow Hopp to once again check out books and enter the library at will.
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