Naperville City Council approves appointment to library board despite continued opposition

  • Kevin Coyne

    Kevin Coyne

 
 
Updated 5/18/2022 6:34 PM

Despite another round of criticism from community members opposing the nomination of Kevin Coyne to the Naperville Public Library board of trustees, the city council approved his appointment.

Tuesday's 8-1 vote, with Theresa Sullivan voting no, ends a tumultuous three weeks in the city that featured dueling online petitions and a contentious back-and-forth between differing sides on social media.

 

The former councilman was joined by 12 other commission and board nominees approved on Tuesday.

At the May 3 city council meeting, 18 people spoke against the potential nominations of Coyne to the library board and former Indian Prairie Unit District 204 school board candidate Shannon Adcock to the Special Events and Cultural Amenities Commission.

Opponents objected to Adcock's consideration as a founder of Awake Illinois -- a group critics have described as far-right with extremist viewpoints. Coyne, who said he has "zero role" in Awake Illinois, was opposed because detractors said he's an Awake Illinois "moderator."

Mayor Steve Chirico submitted Coyne's name for the library board but said he didn't nominate Adcock because of the council feedback he received.

Chirico defended his stance at Tuesday's meeting, saying he's known Coyne for years, and he served "honorably" on the city council and several boards and commissions. Chirico rebuked recent social media posts that expressed fear Coyne will attempt to ban books while on the library board and accused Coyne of being against diversity, equity and inclusion.

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"When I hear these comments, I don't think less of Kevin," Chirico said. "I think less of people who are making those types of accusations. It's just not right."

Six people voiced concern about Coyne during public comments before Tuesday's vote, although Naper Pride organizer Margie Wolf acknowledged Coyne's past support of the group.

Sullivan voted against the agenda item because of Coyne's inclusion, saying the timing wasn't right despite her belief that Coyne's record and recent statements reflect a willingness to work with others on the library board.

"I would prefer to wait on this decision," she said. "I have to ask myself whether this candidate for this board at this time is the best choice for our city and its citizens, and for me, the answer is no right now."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

As he did two weeks ago, Coyne spoke at Tuesday's meeting in defense of his beliefs and his record. He said his only attachment to Awake Illinois was agreeing with the group's anti-mask beliefs.

Coyne also disputed the many accusations made against him online and during city council meetings.

"I have no kind of agenda with respect to this appointment," he said. "I am unaware of any books that need to be banned. I have never called for any books to be banned. I cannot imagine ever calling for any books to be banned. I am completely dumbfounded as to why people keep bringing that up with respect to myself."

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