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updated: 8/2/2012 4:24 PM

DuPage Election Commission keeps PR firm — for now

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Acknowledging there could be numerous media inquiries leading up to the presidential election, the DuPage Election Commission will keep its public relations firm -- for now.

After November, however, it's unclear whether the agency will even need a paid spokesman.

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The commission staff is proposing that agency spokesman Dan Curry and his company, Reverse Spin, be given a one-year, $36,000 professional services contract. If the contract is approved, it would take effect on Dec. 1.

Cathy Ficker Terrill, election board chairman, said the staff hasn't yet justified the need for the one-year contract. But, she said, commission Executive Director Robert Saar has made a case for keeping Reverse Spin through the November election.

Reverse Spin is being paid $3,000 a month by the commission but does not have a contract.

"We have extended the month-to-month (arrangement) to Nov. 15," Terrill said. "Any additional public relations after that point will have to go through the proper procurement channels."

In a memorandum sent on Wednesday, Saar told the board that there are new election laws and other changes that have to be implemented. As a result, Saar said that he should focus on administrative and election process matters -- and not take over new PR responsibilities.

Historically, the commission receives numerous inquiries from local and national members of the press during presidential elections, according to Saar. He said he's expecting the number of press inquiries to increase this year.

Commissioner Chris Hage agreed that keeping Reverse Spin through the election prevents staff from having to deal with press inquiries.

But after the election, Hage said, the board should revisit the issue of using a public relations firm. He said commissioners should monitor Reverse Spin's performance "and see how things go."

Terrill said she isn't convinced the commission will need a public relations firm after November. "Staff needs to justify the continuation of this service," she said.

The decision to hire Reverse Spin was made by previous members of the election panel, all of whom were ousted in April after a consultants' report found poor ethics and procurement practices at the commission.

Curry reacted to Thursday's decision by characterizing it as "a vote of confidence" by the revamped board.

"I'm glad to be continuing our association with what I consider to be one of the best-run election agencies in the country," he said.

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