How school board challengers won in Palatine Dist. 15

Posted4/9/2015 5:30 AM
  • Jessica Morrison candidate for Palatine District 15.

    Jessica Morrison candidate for Palatine District 15.

  • Manjula Sriram candidate for Palatine District 15.

    Manjula Sriram candidate for Palatine District 15.

  • Zubair Khan candidate for Palatine District 15.

    Zubair Khan candidate for Palatine District 15.

One of the newest Palatine Elementary Township Elementary District 15 school board members believes there's a take-away from their strong showing at the polls: Party politics turn off voters in school board races.

Challengers Jessica Morrison and Zubair Khan will take their seats April 29. Voters returned Manjula Sriram, but not her two running mates in a slate endorsed by prominent Northwest suburban Republicans.

Local GOP organizations hosted campaign fundraisers for Sriram and her allies. Palatine Township Republican Committeeman Aaron Del Mar also urged voters to back Sriram, Frank Annerino and the other incumbent, Gerard Iannuzzelli, on the slate.

"I think it hurt them," top vote-getter Morrison said Wednesday. "It's a nonpartisan office and the Republican party was very open about their endorsements this time around."

In an email blast, Del Mar suggested the PTRO had devised a new strategy in school board races. He couldn't be reached for comment Wednesday.

"This is our first attempt at helping our fiscally conservative PTRO members make a difference on the local school board level, and with success, we will continue our push to encourage more of our members to take an active role in our community," wrote Del Mar, noting efforts to distribute campaign literature, put up signs and walk precincts.

Sriram and Iannuzzelli defended their endorsements, saying their campaign supporters wouldn't set their agenda on the board. Iannuzzelli, who was ousted after one term, countered that members of employee groups in the district canvassed neighborhoods for the other slate.

"I would have taken help from anybody who agreed to what I said," said Iannuzzelli, who believes the GOP backers didn't hurt his bid. "The reason why is because they believe in the same values."

He said he's concerned about the financial direction of the district. Tuesday's results leaves one dissenting voice on the board in Sriram, who ran on a platform against the district's deficit spending.

"Whether I'm sitting on a bed of thorns or fire, I'm still going to speak the truth, and that's not going to change," Sriram said. "Just because I'm the only one now, doesn't mean I'm going to be quiet. I'm still going to speak the truth."

Seven candidates jostled over three available seats. Scott Herr, often aligned with Sriram and Iannuzzelli, did not seek re-election.

Morrison also said her slate purposefully used a positive tone in its campaign ads, a strategy she said resonated with voters weary of the factions dividing the existing board.

Joshua Perry, who campaigned on his own, and David Gurion, who ran with Khan and Morrison, lost their bids.

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