Editorial: Cook Library board member should resign

This editorial has been updated: Cook Memorial Public Library District board President Bonnie Quirke said she made a now-controversial speech during a 2010 conference staged by the Illinois Conservative Union. On Thursday, the chairwoman of the Illinois Conservative Union said the group did not exist in 2010. That's supported by a group history published on its website.

By the homophobic things she says and by what she posts on social media, Bonnie Quirke has made it clear she doesn't belong in public office.

Quirke, of Libertyville, has been an elected member of the Cook Memorial Library Board since 2005 and president since 2010. Recently, a 10-year-old video of her speaking to a group has gotten more widely circulated, and what she says in that seven-minute speech has some library patrons calling for her to resign.

Much of the speech, posted by an account called NorthernILPatriots, focuses on the minutiae of how to run for local office and what to expect as a candidate, but there's no doubt why she was telling her audience to run.

"We have abdicated local politics and the predators have taken over," she says in the video, decrying that children's books like "Heather Has Two Mommies" are on library shelves.

She goes on in the video to say public libraries "abound with the homosexual agenda" and that the LBGTQ community has "infiltrated" all levels of local government.

Views like that do not jibe with the atmosphere of safety and inclusion that ought to be part of any library.

Unfortunately, Quirke's past does not stop at homophobia - a 2009 post on her Facebook site shares a picture of what appears to be a native African shaman in supposed ceremonial dress, with President Obama's head superimposed on it and a bone through his nose. The caption: "Healthcare is coming to a hut near you."

The image is undeniably racist. None of this has a place on a library board or in local government.

Sadly, none of it is especially surprising. In 2013 she had a conversation with the Daily Herald in which she predicted that the next logical step to same-sex marriage would be polygamy.

Anyone who wanted to know about Quirke could have found plenty on the internet.

Despite that, she got 3,500 votes to come in second in her last election in 2017. The voters made a mistake in electing her.

And the library board continued it by voting to make her board president.

She should accede to public calls for her to step down.

If she doesn't, the board should explore what it would take to at least strip her of the board presidency.

And if she runs again in 2021, the voters should answer her intolerance beyond any doubt.

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