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updated: 1/26/2017 1:11 PM

Lester: Former aides to suburban Republicans now working for Trump

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  • Two communications specialists who worked for suburban Republicans are now working in President Donald Trump's administration.

    Two communications specialists who worked for suburban Republicans are now working in President Donald Trump's administration.
    Associated Press

 
 

Two people who cut their teeth working for suburban Republicans have landed key spots in Donald Trump's administration.

Gerrit Lansing, 33, of Lake Forest is the new White House director of digital operations, where he says he'll work "hand in glove" with the social media director responsible for Trump's Twitter account -- though he wouldn't comment on the president's often-controversial posts.

I got to know Lansing years ago when he was new media director for U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam of Wheaton and had a keen interest in the growing popularity of Twitter and Facebook. "It was kind of quaint then," he said of digital media.

Lansing most recently was chief digital officer at the Republican National Committee, where he worked closely with the Trump campaign. He describes the new job as "day-to-day blocking and tackling with the communications shop at the White House," overseeing video and marketing production, and reworking some federal websites.

'Right to choose'

Lyndsey Walters, previously press secretary for Gov. Bruce Rauner of Winnetka, is deputy press secretary and adviser to Trump press secretary Sean Spicer. You'll remember Walters for her quip during a Vernon Hills campaign stop in the 2014 governor's race, when she took the fall for ordering ketchup on a Portillo's hot dog -- a Chicago faux pas.

"Hey, what happened to a woman's right to choose?" she wrote on Twitter at the time.

More from District 64

A Park Ridge-Niles Elementary District 64 school board member who interrupted a woman for using the word "vagina" in her remarks during a school board meeting Monday was involved in a 2012 sexual harassment suit filed by 19 employees of a Tilted Kilt Pub & Eatery franchise he co-owned in Chicago.

The women charged their complaints of working in a "sexually hostile" atmosphere were ignored and that a manager and Tom Sotos called "one or more plaintiffs by sexually derogatory nicknames." The case was later dismissed and settled out of court, according to court records. Sotos could not be reached for comment, and Mark Roth, the attorney for the plaintiffs, said only that details of the settlement are confidential.

Sotos spoke out during public comments Monday about fellow board member Dathan Paterno's Twitter posts that labeled participants in last week's Women's March "vagina screechers."

Sotos said he objected to the word because he didn't want to have to explain to his children why people at the board meeting were using it.

Strike preparedness

Rauner representatives spoke with the Daily Herald editorial board this week about preparations in case the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees votes to strike later this month. The union and the governor have failed for more to agree on a contract proposal, with the governor's office rejecting the union's latest proposal earlier this month.

Dennis Murashko, the governor's general counsel, said the governor could fill spots by mobilizing the Illinois National Guard, as Minnesota did in 2001. The governor's office estimates 28,000 to 30,000 workers around the state could go on strike. AFSCME is scheduled to take a strike vote Jan. 30.

"My mom would want me to tell you, 'Don't work too hard,'" said the daughter of the late Brenda Barnes of Naperville, shown here when she was CEO of Sara Lee Corp.
"My mom would want me to tell you, 'Don't work too hard,'" said the daughter of the late Brenda Barnes of Naperville, shown here when she was CEO of Sara Lee Corp. - Associated Press File Photo
'Don't work too hard'

"My mom would want me to tell you, 'Don't work too hard,'" was the advice Erin Barnes gave to attendees at the Wentz Concert Hall memorial service last weekend for her mother, Brenda. Barnes, of Naperville, former CEO of Sara Lee, died last week from a stroke at age 63.

Barnes was the subject of one of the most striking columns I read this week, about the difficult choices working parents face today. Check it out in The New York Times.

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