Arlington Heights trustees favor Pride month proclamation

Most Arlington Heights trustees favor approval of a village proclamation recognizing Pride month in June, but some question whether it will lead to similar pronouncements for other groups and causes on a monthly basis.

The issue arose at the end of a sometimes-contentious board discussion held over the course of three hours Monday night, when board members weighed in on the village's ongoing diversity, equity and inclusion initiative. That followed a rare public debate over their selection of a president pro tem.

The idea to recognize the LGBTQ community in the form of a formal declaration is that of Trustee Tom Schwingbeck, who said it would be fitting with the larger discussion on DEI issues.

His idea gained the support of Trustees Mary Beth Canty, Robin LaBedz, Rich Baldino and Nicolle Grasse. Jim Bertucci and John Scaletta said they'd also be in favor of it, though they raised concerns about the number of proclamations that could come about in the future.

Mayor Tom Hayes said he'd have to see the language of the Pride month proclamation before signing off on it.

LaBedz, who was chosen as president pro tem earlier in the meeting, said when she was library board president in the 1990s, the library hosted a display case in recognition of Pride month. Though it generated some controversy in terms of anonymous letters the library received, LaBedz said no opponents showed up to an oversized meeting room at the next library board meeting.

"All of our names are on these proclamations, so if there are a lot of things that come forward that seem to be controversial, we're all included on them. My name means something, and I would like to have it on something that I feel is as important as those other proclamations," LaBedz said.

LaBedz's comments came after an exchange by Hayes and Canty about whether any past village board proclamations have been controversial. Hayes said he gets requests for proclamations from various groups almost daily, and he tries to be careful about the ones he picks.

"I think most of them are very noncontroversial and something that all the board could agree with, otherwise I would check with the board," Hayes said.

Canty said she could recall at least one controversial proclamation since she was elected to the board in 2019. She favors a structure or process to determine what proclamations the board signs onto.

"I can't say what has been put before the mayor or staff that I or someone else on the board might have felt differently on," Canty said. "I would embrace some rigor on how we do this, who we recognize and when. I think a great place to start is our first opportunity coming up here in June."

While saying he would support some type of proclamation for Pride month, Bertucci questioned how many different ones could arise each month.

"I just want to make sure we don't do things prematurely and set ourselves up for a course that could either cause something where somebody says, 'You did this, but you didn't do that,' or more work on staff and resources than we may have," Bertucci said.

Noting that municipalities issue and read proclamations to varying degrees, Village Manager Randy Recklaus said he would research an organized policy for Arlington Heights, while drafting language for the Pride month proclamation for the June 7 village board meeting.

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