It’s a beautiful summer morning, bright and sunny, birds singing, the temperature cool and breezy. Your child is headed for the first day of school, perhaps for the first time. Both of you are excited and happy, waiting to greet the teacher, the principal, your child’s friends and all the other parents. It’s one of those moments you’ll always treasure. Focused on this special day,, you ignore the woman walking in the carpool lane. You help your child with his backpack as you walk to the front door.
And there she stands. The alderman. With her nominating petitions. On school property. At the front door. She– the woman in the carpool lane–smiles and asks for your signature on her nominating petitions, extending pen and clipboard. You’re trapped. And resentful.
Is nothing sacred?
Petition circulators–including aldermen –have no business on school property, whether the school is public or private. A circulator’s presence on the property of a religious school is especially troubling. When that circulator is also an elected official, it raises the question of the proper separation of church and state–is it legal and ethical for a religious Institution to permit such activity on its premises?
From a legal standpoint, permitting political activity that benefits any candidate or party could lead to the loss of IRS tax-exempt status for private and religious schools. Political neutrality is required.
The alderman has a history of ethical violations and illegal activities during election campaigns. During early voting for the 2015 aldermanic election, she and her husband, Sen. Ira Silverstein, paid a visit to Warren Park, where they stood inside and greeted voters while talking to a park official. On Election Day, the alderman, the senator, and their daughter visited select polling places throughout the ward to inquire about voter turnout. Both Silversteins are seasoned politicians and well aware that candidates are not permitted in polling places unless they are casting ballots in their home precinct.
The 50th Ward should demand more ethical behavior from the alderman and candidates for her position. No candidate should circulate petitions on any school property, public or private. I think we can all agree that schools and religious or community organizations should not be used for political campaign purposes.
Debra, Andrew, and Jason, can the 50th Ward count on you not to politicize our schools during your petition drives?