Newsletter draws fire from Bensenville library candidates

 
 

Two challengers running for seats on the Bensenville Community Public Library board said a new feature in the library's newsletter gives unfair publicity to their two incumbent opponents.

The library launched a "Meet Your Trustees" feature last year in the November-December issue of its newsletter and first highlighted board President Alan Heff. Soon after, current trustees Linda Kochanski and Tina McCauley filed for re-election -- and both were respectively featured in the next two issues.

Library Director Jill Rodriguez said the articles were created to give residents "a better idea of who we are and what we do."

"When we had a focus group, people were suggesting ideas we have already been doing for decades, and that's really frustrating," Rodriguez said. "Our marketing coordinator was eliminated last year when we had to make budget cuts, so we must take advantage of every opportunity to connect with residents."

After reading the article on Heff, challenger Nancy Rizzo voiced concerns at the next board meeting about the possibility of future articles conflicting with campaign efforts.

Kochanski was featured in the next issue, though it did not mention her re-election efforts. Still, the article prompted challenger Susan Diamond to protest in January that it was a poor use of taxpayer money.

Diamond said the articles showed poor judgment and "could easily be construed as the board's attempt to electioneer for its members."

During the meeting, she said she hoped McCauley would not be featured in the following issue.

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McCauley was featured, however, and Rodriguez said there was "no particular rhyme or reason" as to what order the trustees appeared in the newsletter.

She said it's common for library, park district and municipal boards throughout the region to write such features in their newsletters, and said "Meet Your Trustees" is similar to a past initiative offered by the Bensenville library.

"I can't address their criticism of the timing or the choice," said Rodriguez.

"A few years ago we did an in-person version of this on Sundays, where board members would rotate spending time in the library so people in the community have a name and a face to address their questions and concerns," she said.