State Rep. Sidney Mathias publicly distanced himself Monday from recalled Buffalo Grove village Trustee Lisa Stone, a week after current village trustees and the village clerk wrote a letter to the Daily Herald condemning him for his failure to sever ties to her.
"It's imperative that we separate fact from perception," Mathias, a Republican from Buffalo Grove, said during Monday's village board meeting. "So let me now be very clear. I do not support Lisa Stone."
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Mathias' remarks were delivered at the end of a long meeting during which Stone repeatedly arose to make comments on a variety subjects and deliver verbal jabs at village trustees and Village President Jeffrey Braiman.
She appeared shocked by Mathias' remarks and tried several times to speak up from the audience, only to be met with gavel raps and verbal warnings from Braiman.
"There is no collaboration between us," Mathias continued. "I have never supported her political agenda nor her methods or behavior at village board meetings. She is not now, nor has she been, affiliated with my campaigns for many years."
Mathias, a former Buffalo Grove village president, is engaged in a hotly contested race with Rep. Carol Sente for the 59th District seat. The two incumbents are facing one another as a result of redistricting.
Stone was recalled by village voters in November 2010 after a tumultuous 18 months on the village board in which she frequently fought will fellow trustees and accused village leaders of unethical behavior.
Despite her removal from office, Stone has remained an outspoken and controversial figure in Buffalo Grove, raising concerns about the safety of drinking water in some neighborhoods and publicly feuding with village officials, especially Braiman.
Last week's letter from trustees stated that Stone was telling others she is affiliated with Mathias' campaign and is working with the legislator to advance his agenda. Mathias disputed those claims Monday.
"To be specific, I believe that the water in Buffalo Grove is totally safe," he said. "In fact, all three governmental agencies -- the (Environmental Protection Agency), the IEPA and Lake County -- have certified the water to be safe. I believe those reports."
"There can be no place for character assassinations and name calling directed at public officials," Mathias added.
Prior to Mathias' remarks, Stone issued a statement praising the lawmaker for being "an honest and decent man."
"State Representative Mathias has proven to be his own man, and sacrificed greatly by not following their lead, but remained true to his conscience and convictions, which is something we should honor and expect from our leaders," she wrote. "Sid Mathias didn't abandon me when I stood up for the people, and didn't sell my soul for power."
After the meeting, Stone confronted Mathias, saying, "All my friends that support me, they're going to feel bad. The one man that stood up lost his courage. He lost his courage."
The letter to the editor to which Mathias responded was written following a Buffalo Grove Town Hall meeting held at Vernon Township headquarters, during which Mathias was questioned on his relationship with Stone.
The letter's authors believed Mathias ducked questions that night, but some had praise for his words Monday.
"I think Sid's position is perfectly clear. I don't think there is any question about where he stands on the issue," said Trustee Lester Ottenheimer. "And I appreciate Sid taking a position and speaking his mind."
"If he would have made those comments before, I would not have signed my name to that letter," Trustee Michael Terson added. "The fact that he made those comments, if anything, I think, validates the letter."
Mathias' remarks were the culmination of a long meeting punctuated by confrontations between Stone and the board.
During repeated visits to the audience podium, Stone wandered among several topics, including the one that is currently her top priority, the quality of water in Buffalo Grove and nearby Lake County. Repeatedly, trustees urged her to stay on topic or interrupted her to correct her.
At one point, Trustee Beverly Sussman said she could have saved time by condensing one monologue into a short question she asked in the midst of it. Other trustees either left the room while she spoke or talked and laughed with their neighbors on the dais.
The most bitter exchange occurred between Stone and Trustee Jeffrey Berman, after Stone revived a topic she brought up while she was still a member of the board. In 2010, Stone demanded that Berman disclose that his wife was an employee of bond counsel Chapman and Cutler, which had been hired by the village. Berman had recused himself from voting on paying a bill to Chapman and Cutler but said it was not necessary to declare his wife's employment after consulting with the village attorney.
When Stone brought up the matter Monday, Berman responded by saying it was "absolutely inappropriate innuendo."
"You should have been ethical and you're a lawyer," she said.
"Mrs. Stone, are you accusing me of being unethical?" Berman replied.
After she said, "I'm telling the truth," Berman responded, "You're full of baloney is what you are."