Two harsh critics of Carol Stream Public Library administrators have won spots on the board that oversees them.
Dominick Jeffrey and David DeRango, who ran together on a slate opposed to high taxes and improper spending, lost when they ran together in 2009, but got the nod from voters in Tuesday's election. They will join incumbent Trustee Tom Arends on the board after he garnered the most votes -- 2,184 -- in the five-person race for three spots. Jeffrey finished with 2,090 and DeRango had 1,876, according to unofficial results.
Incumbent James Outland, who was appointed to the board in October, had 1,607 and Nadia Sheikh had 1,473.
Arends, Jeffrey and DeRango won 4-year terms, while incumbent Trustee James Bailey defeated Joshua Jeffrey, the son of Dominick Jeffrey, by a 1,930-1,608 margin for a 2-year term.
Dominick Jeffrey has promised that from the start, board members will be more "hands on" in handling the library's finances. He said the question isn't whether he and DeRango can work with Library Director Ann Kennedy -- it's whether she can work with them.
"She could make the suggestions she wants. We're gonna run the library. We are the citizens. She's there to manage the library. She's not a taxpayer of my library," Jeffrey said.
DeRango said the administration and majority of current board members have "thrown money at problems" instead of first questioning why funds are being spent. He said the library's Kuhn Road property has become a "white elephant" for taxpayers since it was purchased to build a new facility -- though voters later rejected that proposition three times at the ballot box.
"It's our library. It should be our library. I commend people for being on the board as long as they have. But I think they lost their focus," DeRango said.
DeRango and Jeffrey join Trustee Michael Wade on the board, who ran on their slate in 2009. Arends has also voted with Wade on fiscal issues, indicating that the board's direction on those issues could be markedly different.
But Kennedy said after Tuesday's election that DeRango and Jeffrey are only two members of a seven-member board. She said she doesn't have a problem working with anybody, and is already used to contentious board meetings, which DeRango and Jeffrey have often attended.
"We keep that in mind, that these two gentlemen will not be making all the decisions for the library," Kennedy said. "I do hope they work together with the other trustees."
Kennedy said she and library staff have expressed concern about DeRango's and Jeffrey's stance on library taxes. She noted that other libraries have cut their budgets because revenue is not coming in, but in Carol Stream, she said money is managed properly in which cuts don't have to be made.
Adding another twist to the story, both significant others of DeRango and Jeffrey have filed lawsuits against the library for wrongful termination. In a suit filed in January, Linda DeRango charges that she was fired in 2007 for not supporting a referendum to build a new library facility. A status hearing is scheduled for June.
Elaine Wierdak, who lives with Jeffrey, alleged in her suit that she was fired in 2009 for campaigning for Jeffrey. That case was settled out of court last September.
Kennedy said she believes DeRango should recuse himself from any closed session board discussions about the lawsuit, and doesn't think he should be privy to executive session minutes until the case is settled or dismissed.
DeRango acknowledged there may be some tension because of his wife's suit, but reaffirmed his focus is on the library.
"My wife is doing what she's doing. I'm staying away from it. I'm not privy to what she has going on. I don't want to be because of my involvement as a trustee. Anything she does she has to do on her own," DeRango said.
Kennedy said she was contacting the library's legal counsel to see if Jeffrey should also recuse himself from closed session discussions about Linda DeRango's suit.