3 vie to stay on St. Charles school board ballot

 
 

A St. Charles woman says two St. Charles District 303 school board members violated the district's ethics policy and should be kicked off the April ballot.

Danielle Penman on Friday asked the Kane County Electoral Board to remove the names of school board President Kathleen Hewell and Vice President Nicholas Manheim from the ballot.

Hewell is seeking a four-year term; Manheim is seeking a two-year term.

Penman has criticized the school board over its decision to close Fox Ridge Elementary School, which her children attend. Hewell and Manheim voted in favor of closing the school.

Penman told the electoral board that Hewell had asked other school board members to sign her petition while they were taking a break during a board meeting, and Manheim had Hewell circulate a petition for him.

Penman said both actions violated the school district's Ethics and Gift Ban.

The policy states no board member or district employee shall do "prohibited political activity" on district grounds or during compensated time. On the list of "prohibited political activity" is initiating, preparing, circulating, reviewing or filing any petition on behalf of a candidate for elective office.

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It also says board members and employees may not intentionally require other board members or employees to perform prohibited political activity as part of that employee or board member's duties.

"It speaks that these are board members, these are sitting board members that have been on for a while. They should know the rules," Penman said. "What they are expecting other people to follow, they should be following."

Hewell argued that the policy is not law. She circulated Manheim's petition on the street on which she lives. Manheim did not attend his hearing, because he is on vacation.

Penman also objected to the petitions of Rebecca McCabe, who is seeking a four-year term. McCabe was an assistant superintendent with the district until she retired in 2016.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Penman told the electoral board McCabe should be removed because she has a "conflict of interest" for several reasons: McCabe has been hired as a consultant for the district, and for the Mid-Valley Special Education Cooperative. And, according to Penman, McCabe receives a pension and benefits from the district. She also argued McCabe will not be able to serve the best interest of the residents of the district because she will favor the administration.

McCabe said she no longer has a contract with the district or Mid-Valley (the cooperative's budget and operations are handled by District 303). Her pension comes from the Teachers' Retirement System, she said. And it should be up to the voters to determine whether she will favor administration at the expense of residents, she said.

The board will decide the cases Tuesday.

Other challenges

The board also heard a challenge to the petition of Chad Feldotto, candidate for District 2 of the Fox Valley Park District board; Richard J. Treonis, candidate for Fox River and Countryside Fire/Rescue District trustee; and Winifried Cooper, candidate for the Gail Borden Library board.

Challenger Jerry Butler said Feldotto did not collect enough signatures on his election petition.

In Treonis' case, challenger Thomas Mollenhauer said Treonis listed an office that doesn't exist on the pages of the petition, including the statement of candidacy; failed to put his address and the election date on one of the pages of signatures; and did not securely fasten his petition pages together. Treonis' petition states he is running for secretary of the fire board. However, the secretary is a position chosen among themselves by the trustees.

Challenger Randall Hopp contends that, among other issues, Cooper did not file a statement of candidacy when he first turned in his petitions Dec. 14; and that he then filed that statement on Dec. 17. Hopp says that violates a state law that says petitions "shall not be withdrawn, altered or added" to once they are submitted.

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