We knocked on doors and attended every voter forum we could and held our own virtual “Coffee Chats” and created a volunteer postcard project — basically did everything we could think of to get our message in front of voters. Turnout for municipal elections is historically low and we felt sure if we could get enough Democrats out and voting we would stand a chance.
Board Member Chaplin: I’m proud to support the York for Progress slate for York Township. This impressive slate of candidates with their strong and comprehensive range of talents and experiences will have a powerful positive impact on our community. Now more than ever, we need people in Township government who are not only compassionate and caring but competent and trustworthy. We need elected officials who are committed to the well-being of all members of our community, especially as we emerge from the pandemic.
Representative Casten: Today, I am endorsing the Democratic slate for York Township. They know that real leadership is about public service. Through their past public service, each of them has demonstrated they have the right experience, passion, and drive to bring our neighbors together to tackle the challenges we face. They’ve already been tireless advocates for our community and that’s why I am proud to endorse their campaign.
And then! Direct mail started turning up on people’s doorsteps. Postcards that looked like this and paid for by “Protect York Township”
What a shock! There was also a website and YouTube channel devoted to Protect York Township. Although we did a lot of investigating, we were not able to determine who funded Protect York Township and who was responsible.
Direct mail is expensive — someone has to design it, and print it, and of course postage is outrageous. There are 126,000 residents of York Township and mail pieces went to a lot of them (not just registered Republicans) and more than once.
Note how our connection to LARJ: Lombard Allies for Racial Justice was used in racist dogwhistle fashion. From the PC letter shown below: “All of the Democrat [sic] candidates co-founded a Lombard group that supports defunding the police and raising money to bail out criminals and keep them out of jail….. a Lombard resident was radicalized by the ‘defund the police’ movement and attempted to blow up the Lombard police station.” None of these allegations are true — I was the only co-founder of LARJ, and the organization has a good relationship with local law enforcement and government leaders due to the efforts of our members in 2020. We certainly never advocated for defunding the police or “keeping criminals out of jail” (nor indeed, would it have anything to do with our candidacy since the Township is not concerned with law enforcement).
Then we were served with a bogus “Complaint for Violation of the Campaign Disclosure Act” which was stressful, required an attorney’s help and a court hearing, and was, of course, found to be baseless. Meanwhile, their allies amplified this lie in local Facebook groups.
The lies and deceptions of these candidates are unreal. John Morrisey filed 7 citations against members of York for Progress at a personal risk of $3500 and jail time if he was falsifying complaints [note: he was]. He did this to secure the integrity of the local election and is in no way at fault of wrongdoing. If you can’t even handle your own campaign, how will you run the township successfully??
Shortly before the election I heard through the grapevine that the staff at the Township (many of whom are related to the current elected leaders) were all planning to quit if we won. So I guess they were nervous!
After all that, we did almost double voter turnout in York Township, and I earned 43% of the vote — not bad at all.
But, isn’t it troubling how well these attacks work? And that the GOP apparently has bottomless pockets to blanket one township (one of 1,429 in Illinois!) with hate mail to keep their do-nothing representatives in office. Nevertheless, I think the enthusiasm we helped generate can and will put some better people in office next time around in 2023. I certainly hope so!