Election complaint filed against Geneva teachers union
A Batavia man has filed a complaint about the Geneva Education Association with the Illinois State Board of Elections over the large postcards the union sent in support of three candidates for the Geneva school board.
Bob McQuillan made the complaint March 15, according to a copy he provided the Daily Herald. He alleges the union, which represents teachers in Geneva District 304, has neither formed a campaign committee nor reported its spending.
Illinois law requires most candidates and organizations to create a committee and disclose finances, including spending, when money received or spent on behalf of a candidate reaches $5,000 or more.
McQuillan's complaint says the association sent an 8½-by-11-inch postcard.
It does not say how many people or households received the mailer. According to city-data.com, about 10,700 households are in the 60134 ZIP code. The school district covers most of the city of Geneva, a small portion of Batavia, and part of the unincorporated Mill Creek subdivision and La Fox area.
Union President Kevin Gannon said the complaint "is not warranted or founded," because the union spent about only $1,500 on the mailers. He did not know how many the union mailed but said it targeted members of the Geneva Education Association who live in the district and people who have previously voted in school board elections.
The association is supporting Robert Cabeen, Alicia Saxton and Katherine Frye. Saxton, a former teacher, announced her candidacy in December at a union news conference at the end of a teachers strike. She said she had organized a Facebook page supporting the striking teachers and then decided to run for school board.
McQuillan used to live in Geneva and in the district. He was a co-founder of a group called Geneva TaxFACTS, which frequently criticized the school district's finances. He ran unsuccessfully for a Republican nomination for state representative and for mayor of Geneva.
He now lives in the Batavia school district.
McQuillan said he does not think it is right for the union to endorse candidates.
"This union activity, happening in several local school board races, has to be stopped. The board members are sworn to represent the taxpayers, not the teachers," he wrote in a news release.
"I think that our association has the right to decide if we want to support, recommend and endorse candidates," Gannon said. It has done so before, he said.
Nine people are running for three seats on the school board. The other candidates are incumbent Mike McCormick and newcomers Al Gaston, Prerak Patel, Jessica Breugelmans, Kim Edwards and Jill Johnson. All but McCormick participated in the union's endorsement process, which included an interview with about 30 representatives, Gannon said.