Naperville TEA Patriots rankings surprise some candidates
Candidates in Naperville's contested races are offering mixed reactions to a ranking system released this week by a group calling itself the Naperville TEA Patriots.
Representatives from the organization did not return calls Wednesday or Thursday to answer questions about who's in the group or exactly what its rankings mean.
But the group did release a statement explaining its rankings are based on a "comprehensive and exhaustive evaluation of candidates with a committee of Naperville TEA Patriots ranking the candidates with a rubric that addressed three main facets: Issues, Character and Ability to do the job."
The rubric was weighted toward the "Issue module," which addressed the candidates' positions according to the three main pillars of TEA concerns: fiscal responsibility, limited government and the free market system, the group said. The evaluation process included information garnered from public forums, meetings, websites, and other publicly available documents and resources that were believed to be truthful.
The organization then used the system to rank its preferred candidates in Naperville's mayoral and city council races as well as contests in Indian Prairie Unit District 204 and Naperville Unit District 203.
Bethany Weeks, a challenger for one of three open seats on Naperville Unit District 203's board, was pleased with her score of 88 out of a possible 100 and called it a "very accurate portrayal of each candidate."
"I'm happy to have received a high ranking from the TEA Patriots. Regardless of whether or not I agree with their views in general, I think they did an extremely good job on the District 203 candidate (ranking)," Weeks said Thursday. "They point out the lack of transparency of the three incumbents and highlight their union support.
"I also like that the TEA Patriots point out that I do not have children in the district — I really feel like this new perspective could be an important one that is currently unrepresented."
The group's ratings for District 203 put challengers Jay Fisher (with 90 points) and Weeks at the top followed by incumbents Terry Fielden (55), Mike Jaensch (50) and Suzyn Price, who received no ranking.
In looking at city council and mayoral candidates, two main concerns for the TEA Candidate Committee were support of the Special Events and Cultural Activities Fund and each candidate's views on union support.
In regard to SECA, the Naperville TEA Patriots view organizations obtaining funding from the program as private groups and believe they should seek money from the private sector.
Regarding union support, TEA Patriots say they are concerned about the connection between council or board members who are supported by unions and then negotiate union contracts.
Councilman Doug Krause ranked highest of the three mayoral candidates with a score of 86 because of his record voting consistently against red-light cameras and high density housing. The second challenger, Kenn Miller, received 79 points and incumbent George Pradel received 60.
Krause said he's pleased with any endorsement he gets, but pointed out the only one that really counts is what voters say on Tuesday.
"People sharing their opinions, that's what America is all about, but getting folks out to vote Tuesday is what's most important," Krause said. "Just like newspaper endorsements, this ranking may mean something to some and nothing to others."
City council incumbent Grant Wehrli scored an 82, second in council candidates behind only Charlie Schneider who scored a 91. But Wehrli was surprised to learn of the ranking when contacted Thursday.
"I certainly wasn't striving to earn their support and if they sent me a questionnaire, I certainly didn't respond," Wehrli said. "I don't know who these people are. I put my name and face on everything I say so I'm a little concerned about being ranked by an organization without them even talking to me."
The TEA Patriots gave the other council incumbents, Richard Furstenau and Bob Fieseler, 79 and 33 points respectively. Among the challengers, Steve Chirico received 77, Patty Gustin 69 and John Krummen 32. Wayne Floegel, Tiffany Stephens and Joe McElroy received no ranking.
Some candidates were not rated, according to the organization's statement, "due to a lack of available information." That shortlist of candidates includes District 203's eight-year and longest-serving board member Suzyn Price along with city council newcomers Wayne Floegel, Joe McElroy and Tiffany Stephens.
In Indian Prairie Unit District 204, the party gave challengers Tricia Tillotson (81) and Mark Rising (78) the highest scores, followed by incumbent Curt Bradshaw (73), newcomer Lori Price (67) and incumbent Alka Tyle (65).
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