Endorsements: Austriaco, Coyle, Lee, Owen for Dist. 207 school board

  • Carla Owen

    Carla Owen

  • Jin Lee

    Jin Lee

  • Linda Coyle

    Linda Coyle

  • Ashley Kilburg

    Ashley Kilburg

The Daily Herald Editorial Board
Updated 3/20/2021 8:21 PM

The race for school board in Maine Township High School District 207 is one of those contests in which district voters can be proud -- a set of qualified candidates from diverse backgrounds with no personal motives beyond a sincere desire to help create an environment in which students can succeed.

Five candidates are seeking four open seats on the board. All four incumbents are seeking reelection.


Jin Lee, of Des Plaines, and Carla R. Owen, of Park Ridge, are the most seasoned of the veterans, each seeking a third full term. Lee is a business consultant who has been a past member of the Des Plaines Economic Development Commission as well as a member of the Northeastern Illinois University board of trustees. Owen is an attorney who represents minors in custody matters.

Candidates Aurora Austriaco and Linda Coyle, both attorneys from Park Ridge, are each seeking a second term on the board. In addition to her school board service, Austriaco's substantial civic experience includes service on the Park Ridge planning board, the Cook County Human Rights Commission and the Asian American Coalition of Chicago, as well as having been president of the Chicago Bar Association and the National Conference of Bar Presidents. Coyle's resume is similarly impressive, with service on the District 207 advisory council, as liaison with the Oakton Community College governing board, and on the planning board and the police chief's advisory board in Park Ridge.

It's an impressive field of incumbents, all of whom speak in authoritative detail about the challenges the district will face when the COVID-19 emergency begins to recede and their vision for a diverse school setting and curriculum that can benefit and accommodate students of all backgrounds and interests.

Newcomer Ashley Kilburg is an educator from Park Ridge with experience teaching in Chicago as well as with the One Million Degrees college preparation program and the international Room to Read child literacy nonprofit. She has sound, well-informed ideas about the needs of District 207 and a well thought-out vision for promoting them. She would fit well on the collaborative and success-oriented District 207 board.

She cannot match the level of direct experience of the incumbents, however, and considering the intense disruption of the pandemic and the particular educational challenges ahead, direct board experience will be even more important than usual over the coming years. So, our endorsements go to Austriaco, Coyle, Lee and Owen, with the hope that Kilburg will continue to stay involved with the district.

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