Republican candidates vying for spots on the DuPage County Board District 5 are scheduled to appear at a sponsored by the on March 7 at . This is the second Chamber-sponsored forum that excludes Democratic candidates, which raised the eyebrows of some Lisle Patch readers.
When District 2 candidates , a couple Patch commenters asked why a Chamber of Commerce was hosting an event for Republican candidates only.
Uncontested Democratic candidate Liz Chaplin confirmed on Patch she was not invited to last week's Chamber event.
Tom Althoff, president/CEO of the Lisle Chamber of Commerce, acknowledged that both events, which have been billed on the Chamber website as candidate forums, only feature Republican candidates. He said the Chamber did not extend the invitation to the District 2 and 5 Democratic candidates, Chaplin and Tony Michelassi, respectively, because both are running uncontested in the Democratic primary.
While the Chamber is nonpartisan and does not endorse candidates, Althoff said the Chamber chose to conduct the forums as an informational “community service” to residents, “because there were candidates from the area, especially Lisle.”
Althoff said village staff signed off on the Chamber's use of their facilities. However, the Village's approval may have violated its own meeting room policy.
The Village of Lisle's current meeting room policy allows certain organizations to use village space as a "limited public forum" after business hours, with the permission of the business office or village manager. Village policy also permits the use of meeting rooms for political use, provided events are "open to all candidates for a political office."
Village manager Jerry Sprecher said the Village took on some community meeting responsibilities at a time when the was remodeling. He said while the 's meeting room can accommodate a variety of uses, the Village Hall board room "gets complicated" because they require security and audiovisual staff to be present.
Civic and non-profit organizations are not charged for use of Village facilities.
Sprecher approved the Chamber's meeting room application. He said he did not consider the inclusion of the Democratic candidates to be an issue because this is a primary race, and those casting a Democratic ballot must throw their support toward the single candidates.
"If there was a contested race, I'd acknowledge the point," he said.
Althoff said the Village did not charge for the use of its audiovisual services for the candidate forums.
Sprecher said the decision to broadcast and record the forums stems from a longstanding position that it is a benefit to the community to have access to them.
Both races include candidates who currently serve on municipal or county boards. The District 2 race includes Elmhurst Mayor Pete DiCianni (who also is a member of the DuPage Stormwater Commission), Lombard Trustee Zach Wilson, and Oak Brook Trustee Elaine Zannis. Mike Loftus, a Lisle resident, is a chairman of the Lisle Township Republican Organization and an acting member of DuPage County's zoning board of appeals.
District 5 Republican candidates include Lisle village Trustee Ed Young, and DuPage County Board incumbents Jim Healy and John P. Zediker.
District 5 includes portions of Aurora, Lisle, Naperville, and Warrenville. Althoff said at least six of the seven Republican candidates are expected to attendance. The forum begins at 7 p.m., and will air on Lisle’s public access channel. A recording will also be available for re-airing on Naperville Community Television, he said.