The Caucus Committee assessed that in light of
- A detailed, non-partisan, mission-oriented search and interview process for qualified candidates for the office of Mayor over 6 months by the Caucus Committee;
- The second place candidate, Prue Beidler, breaking her commitment to support the Caucus candidate and advocating voters with biased information to not support Dr. Randy Tack;
- The annual meeting advisory vote being intentionally manipulated by other special interest groups and single-issue voters, in addition to Ms. Beidler;
- Outside legal counsel with national domain expertise strongly determining the Caucus bylaws don’t address a ’no’ vote, and that the vote is clearly non-binding;
- The Caucus Committee having a decision to make:
- Abdicate its primary responsibility and support no one, OR
- Stand by its original vote and strongly support the best qualified person for the Mayor job, Dr. Randy Tack;
That the right thing to do for the community of Lake Forest, therefore, is to continue to strongly support our endorsed candidate, Dr. Randy Tack. We are confident that once the community gets to know Dr. Tack, what he stands for, and understands the misinformation spread about him prior to the Lake Forest Annual Meeting by special interest voters, they will also strongly support his candidacy for Mayor.
This is the Lake Forest Caucus’ 88th year of volunteer service to the City and its residents. Traditionally, its Annual Meeting was intended to be the first official introduction of the Caucus candidates to the community, as well as a chance to summarize the Caucus’ work for the year. Approximately 7 years ago, it was determined that the Caucus bylaws called for a vote of support of our candidates at the Annual Meeting.
The Annual Meeting typically draws in about 30 to 60 people during presentations by the Executive Committee and candidates, and approximately 100 people attend over the course of the day to cast a ‘vote’. Notably, there are no records of a ’no’ vote prevailing for a candidate, until this year.
This year’s turnout at the Annual Meeting was 5 times the norm, with about 500 people showing up over the course of the day. We became aware that prior to the meeting, a number of emails were circulating with false information about Dr. Tack, including false claims that he was going to disband the Historic Preservation Commission, false claims he voted against the west side carwash (that vote happened after he was no longer on City Council), and other misleading information concerning gender bias, etc.
As an example of the misinformation, some residents showed up on November 9th asking where to vote “against the third rail.” It was amply clear that there were special interests involved in trying to deny the many months of hard work interviewing, vetting, and evaluating candidates conducted by the 43 members of the Caucus Committee, who themselves are elected by all of Lake Forest to serve. Furthermore, an abnormally large number of voters marked their ballots only on Mayor, abstaining for the other races. Some voters even took photographs of the ballots, seemingly unfamiliar with the scope of work of the Caucus as a whole. Finally, the total number of voters at the Annual Meeting represented approximately 3% of all registered voters in the City of Lake Forest. Approximately 2% of Lake Forest voters voted against Dr. Tack’s candidacy.
Surveying these facts has led the Caucus Committee to conclude that many community members were there for a single purpose, biased against one particular candidate, and wholly not consistent with the purpose and spirit of the Annual Meeting. It remains our mission to promote agenda-free, non-partisan and unbiased selection and unbiased candidates to serve the City of Lake Forest.
What about the bylaws?
The Caucus Committee consulted attorneys on the Caucus Committee, as well as outside legal counsel with domain expertise on the best path forward. It is very clear that the bylaws do not dictate how to proceed after a negative vote. Similarly, the vote is non-binding.
Despite evidence that special interests and misinformation had disproportionately affected the negative outcome for our Mayoral candidate, we considered whether to propose another candidate. This option was evaluated against the incredibly comprehensive process we conducted in interviewing, evaluating, and vetting our Mayoral candidates over almost six months and hundreds of hours collectively dedicated by the 43 volunteers of the Caucus Committee on behalf of the citizens of Lake Forest to parse information about each candidate.
As a result of our exhaustive search and interview process, the Caucus Committee had strongly determined that Dr. Tack is the right person for the job and our community. We started our task with approximately 24 candidates, then narrowed it down through multiple rounds of interviews and external checks to 7, then to 4, then to 3, and then to 2. We ultimately selected Dr. Tack after the most thorough mayoral vetting process in the history of the Caucus, and multiple opportunities for shortlisted candidates to offer their visions of leadership and demonstrate their grasp of what lies on the horizon for the City of Lake Forest and its residents.
It should be noted that at no point did Dr. Tack or any candidate even suggest the idea of eliminating any board or commission. Such a view is immediately disqualifying for service as Mayor. Indeed, candidates are evaluated on their prior service and their understanding, experience, and contribution to how the various facets of City government, boards, and commissions work in harmony to ensure the best possible management of the City.
While the bylaws are silent on how to proceed in the event of a ‘no’ vote at the annual meeting, they are also non-binding and do not overrule the verifiable work completed to identify the best qualified candidate for the role of Mayor by the Caucus Committee.
What about other candidates?
Given the dissent, we were obliged to reconsider our 2nd place candidate. In this case, it was Prue Beidler. She has been on record of her own accord as being our other finalist, despite the Caucus’ every effort to maintain confidentiality and an equal playing field for all volunteers in the City, past, present, and future.
All candidates are asked during the interview process whether they will support the chosen candidate, regardless of a positive outcome for their candidacy. This is an important question to determine personal motive for the candidate. Ms. Beidler invited the community, in writing, to vote against Dr. Tack. In doing so, she reneged on her own commitment to the Caucus process, thereby invalidating any endorsement of her by the Lake Forest Caucus.
Further, Ms. Beidler suggested in her communications prior to the annual meeting that she was not selected because she is a female, casting aspersion upon the Caucus Committee and the 40% women who worked so diligently to select the best Mayoral candidate. Ms. Beidler’s actions go against the Caucus’ mission to find candidates who do not have a hidden agenda or bias in seeking to join a board or Council and who are leaders of integrity. We continue to value her prior service to the City and support of the Caucus (read her Caucus endorsement from 2021) immensely but do not see her present actions as being consistent with the City’s best interest.
Finally, we received feedback from our third place candidate, who was a strong and qualified candidate and who happens to be a woman, as well as other mayoral candidates. All encouraged the Caucus to stand by its original recommendation and offer their support for Dr. Tack.
Our Choice: Abdicate or Support
The Caucus Committee had a difficult choice to make: abdicate our primary task of making an informed recommendation to the community for Mayor (this is clearly stated in our bylaws), or stand by all of the great work the 43 members of the Caucus Committee did to arrive at our recommendation of Dr. Randy Tack for Mayor. With the best of our intentions, efforts, and deliberations, we have stuck to careful consideration of facts and guiding principles to address the complexity of this situation.
We have also carefully observed the contrast between the principles upon which our candidates have operated. As your neighbors, elected to represent you on the Caucus Committee and with all of the facts at our disposal, we continue to strongly endorse Dr. Randy Tack for the Caucus slate. The final decision remains in your hands in April 2023, and we encourage you to engage and learn as much as you can in the interim. The Caucus commitment is to all the residents of Lake Forest.
What about the vote?
We understand the uncomfortable position of not following the ‘vote’ of the community at the Annual Meeting. Notwithstanding our present decision, going forward we will need to adjust how our Annual Meeting functions to avoid this issue in the future. We need to ensure that the many months of hard work and hundreds of hours of diligence expended by the volunteer members of the Caucus Committee can’t be undone in a few hours by a clear minority of the community comprising special interest voters. Note that the Caucus Committee is elected by you, the voters, to represent them in doing this hard work and each member volunteers their time.
We will have many conversations about this over the coming months and into the next Caucus season. One approach may be to solidify the bylaw language around the vote being advisory in nature. Another option is to delineate a quorum of voters required in order for the vote to be binding. We look forward to having these discussions.
I heard the Caucus is biased against women, is that true?
No. Here are the facts:
- This year the Caucus Committee is 40% female. This is pretty consistent with past experience (40-50% typically). The vote in favor of Dr. Randy Tack was not split down female / male lines.
- 2 of the 4 last Caucus Presidents have been female.
- The last 3 city council recommendations prior to this year were 100% female.
- Assuming Nancy Novit serves out her full terms as expected, the seat Prue Beidler held as Ward 1 Alderperson will end up being held by a female for 14 straight years.
- 3 of 4 Ward 2 female candidates contacted to interview declined for personal reasons, despite a concerted effort to find female candidates for city council.
- Both Presidents of our local school boards are female.
- 5 of 7 District 67 school board members are female.
- 50% of our school board recommendations this year are female.
We’d love to interview more female candidates for various volunteer positions in Lake Forest! Please send us your candidates and recommendations.
Why did the Caucus Committee choose Dr. Randy Tack in the first place?
Quite simply, he is the most qualified and experienced person for the job. Read about Randy Tack here on his website.