'A very human moment': Palatine Twp. supervisor signs Pride Month proclamation
Just under six weeks after he was sworn into office, new Palatine Township Supervisor Andy-John Kalkounos took a bold step by issuing the township's first proclamation in honor of Pride Month.
While the feedback the Republican supervisor has received so far has been overwhelmingly positive, Kalkounos said he also expects some negative reactions. Kalkounos said he believes in respect for all people regardless of sexual preference, and his proclamation has nothing to do with politics.
"I don't check in with party bosses to see how things will be perceived, never have and don't plan on it as supervisor," he said.
"Government is open to everyone. If reaching out to all segments of the community makes a difference, then that's the right thing to do."
Kalkounos signed the document during a gathering of about 30 people Sunday at the Palatine Township Center. He was elected township supervisor in April, after serving four years as township trustee, and sworn in May 17.
Kalkounos said he was inspired to sign the proclamation after a Palatine married couple, Paul Dombrowski and Joe Serio, whom he's known for years, asked if the township had planned to honor Pride Month.
"I researched it with staff, I talked to some of the other local leaders, elected and otherwise, and I said, 'I can do a proclamation,'" Kalkounos said.
The crowd on Sunday included "friends and supporters" as well as guests invited by Serio and Dombrowski. Several spoke about what Pride Month means to them, Kalkounos said.
"There were people from all sorts of political backgrounds in the room. It wasn't a political thing at all. It was a very human moment."
Kalkounos said such events will be better publicized in the future, after a revamp of the township's website, communications and social media.
He also credited the example of suburban leaders such as Palatine Mayor Jim Schwantz, who also signed a Pride Month proclamation. Some municipalities went further by flying Pride flags at their village or city halls.
Serio and Dombrowski, along with other Palatine residents, recently asked Schwantz to fly the Pride flag at village hall, but Schwantz -- who signed his proclamation without any public announcement -- declined.
"A.J. (Kalkounos) took the time to do it publicly," Dombrowski said. "It was a wonderful event. Republicans, Democrats, the elderly, young people. There were straight people and there were gays. And it was a great nonpartisan, nonpolitical discussion."
Palatine Township flies the U.S. flag and the township flag. So what about flying the Pride flag there?
Kalkounos said flying the Pride flag is not on his radar. He'd also want to involve the entire township board if the discussion ever happens, he added.
"The proclamation, to me, seemed the cleanest and most efficient way," he said. "I'm new, and this is a job I am taking very seriously. There is a lot of responsibility here. I am looking at inclusivity and I'm looking at outreach as a major part of it."