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updated: 3/5/2017 8:53 AM

Endorsement: Let District 15 begin again with a fresh non-slate

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The Daily Herald Editorial Board

We find ourselves torn by the choices on the April 4 ballot for the Palatine Township Elementary District 15 board of education.

The district politics has just survived a tumultuous year in which the school board approved an unprecedented 10-year teacher contract that we among others have sharply questioned.

In that atmosphere, the school board chose to put a comprehensive $130 million schools proposal up for referendum, which then predictably was repudiated by the voters.

Don't get us wrong. We think the members of the school board are good and dedicated people. As individuals and as people, they are likable and extremely well-meaning.

But where is the common sense?

In the wake of all that, nine candidates are running for four 4-year terms on the school board and two more are running for one 2-year term. Three of the candidates for 4-year terms are incumbents, Board President Margaret Babcock, Board Vice President James Ekeberg and Gerald Chapman.

But the question in this heated election isn't just whether the school board could use some fresh faces. It's more complicated than that.

Complicating the matter is the Palatine Township Republican Organization, which has inserted partisan politics in the election.

The GOP's entry into this race is no small thing. Traditionally, suburban local elections -- outside of townships, at least -- have been free of the partisanship and party loyalties that have led to abject posturing and gridlock in both Springfield and Washington.

Unfortunately, across the suburbs, that sort of nonpartisanship has begun eroding in local elections recently. It's not a healthy thing, no matter whether the intrusion by political parties is by Republicans or Democrats.

If the voters fail to repudiate these attempts, only more of them will be invited.

So, where credible alternatives are available, we must embrace them.

It forces us to view the GOP-backed slate of Frank Annerino, Michael Smolka, Lisa Beth Szczupaj and Anthony Wang (running for 4-year terms) and Barbara Kain (running for a 2-year term) with a more skeptical eye.

Our endorsements for the 4-year terms therefore go to electrical engineer Sid Aman, an energetic and analytical candidate who may need somewhat to rein in his enthusiasm for his own ideas; to client services manager Adam Bauske, a thoughtful and constructive advocate for continued progress for one of the state's finest elementary school systems; to attorney Michael Smolka, the most impressive of the Republican-backed candidates; and to Gerald Chapman, the most credentialed and least defensive of the incumbent candidates.

For the 2-year term, we endorse insurance executive David Border, who by action has demonstrated his commitment to civic involvement and to the district's enhancement.

The voters must signal that change is needed, but that party politics isn't the change.

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