Saying "bullies suck" in a Facebook post, Arlington Heights dentist Joe Favia withdrew Saturday from the race for village trustee after his post on social media caused two write-in candidates to file to run against him for the previously uncontested seat.
"To say the last two days have been tough would be an understatement," he said on Facebook and in an email to the Daily Herald.
"Personally, I have been on an emotional rollercoaster. I have seen my character assassinated in public forum, my dental office Facebook page slammed with negative reviews for the first time from people that are not even patients of mine, and much more that I guess comes along with being a pawn in a chess game."
He said that after talking to his wife, "we realized that the only things that matter are our family, friends, our dental practice and all the great things we have been doing for our community. Those are the things we love the most. So with that said we feel it is best that I step aside … "
Favia had posted on his brother's Facebook page an internet meme picture from the Jan. 21 women's march in Washington, D.C., that included the message, "In one day, Trump got more fat women out walking, than Michelle Obama did in 8 years," with the message, "Hilarious!!!"
Favia said Wednesday he respects women and the posting was meant to be humorous.
But Lauree Harp, a community volunteer who often works on village political campaigns, said she and other residents planned to attend next Monday's village board meeting to call for Favia to withdraw from the race.
And Richard Baldino and Mark Walker filed just before the deadline Thursday to run as write-in candidates. They said their candidacies were triggered by the social media posting.
Favia said that he believes he became a target "because a few bullies on the playground are upset about the misunderstood events that allowed me to be on the ballot uncontested."
Several people had been considering running for trustee but a couple of them said they decided not to, believing all four incumbents were running for reelection. Incumbents Bert Rosenberg, Tom Glasgow and Jim Tinaglia are running.
But longtime Trustee Joe Farwell decided at the last minute not to run again after 16 years on the board, prompting behind-the-scenes complaints that the announcement was timed to aid Favia. Both Farwell and Favia have denied that in interviews with the Daily Herald.
"No matter what would have happened Monday night this group won't stop until it finds out what they are looking for," he said in his Facebook post. "I just happen to be caught in the middle and I am the one that will continue to be slaughtered."
Neither of the write-ins had considered running before the social media brouhaha.
Favia, a past president of the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce, said he appreciated the many people who made positive posts about his professional work and his volunteer service.
"I can't thank all of you enough that helped me get to this point and were willing to support me if I was to go forward. Your comments from the last post were George Bailey-esque."