Island Lake's Jenkins says she regrets outbursts at meetings

Updated 2/5/2015 1:03 PM

Island Lake village trustee candidate Debra Jenkins on Wednesday said she regrets outbursts she made at board meetings a few years ago.

In one of the most high-profile situations, Jenkins repeatedly yelled "liar" at then-Trustee Shannon Fox during a 2012 discussion about a proposal to build a new village hall.


Jenkins was asked about that outburst and others during a group interview at the Daily Herald's Libertyville office. She acknowledged they happened.

"I did yell 'liar' to Shannon, and I probably shouldn't have, and I do regret yelling that," Jenkins said. "A lot of us were very frustrated, and I was extremely frustrated with the board and the decisions they were making and how they were spending our money."

Four candidates are running for three seats on the Island Lake board. All of them attended the interview and all were asked about Jenkins' outbursts and whether more decorum is needed at board meetings.

In addition to Jenkins, the candidates are incumbents Thea Morris and John Burke and political newcomer Sandy Hartogh.

Morris was elected to the board in 2009. Burke was appointed to fill a vacancy in August 2014.

Hartogh is a former Daily Herald freelance reporter.

Jenkins is a member of the village's fire and police commission. When Jenkins was appointed to that post last year, Fox publicly criticized her for the earlier comments and other issues.

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On Wednesday, Morris said she voted against Jenkins' joining the commission because of those outbursts.

Elected officials, Morris said, "need to be held to a higher standard" when it comes to decorum.

"Professionalism and respect has to be there," Morris said.

Hartogh said more diplomatic behavior is needed at board meeting, both on the dais and in the audience. She said she likes that residents are allowed to speak up and share opinions during meetings, but she also called for conduct rules that would prohibit "verbal attacks."

When asked about conduct at board meetings, Burke said residents were frustrated during the previous mayoral administration. People couldn't get answers from trustees, he said.

More recently, Burke had a heated conversation with a resident during a meeting last month.

"If I was wrong in the way I spoke with him, I'm sorry," Burke said of the incident. "But residents have to respect the board members, too."

Burke, Jenkins and Hartogh are running as a slate called the People's Alliance. Morris is running solo.

All four seats carry 4-year terms.

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