Tinley Park challengers question campaigning ban
BY STEVE METSCH firstname.lastname@example.org January 13, 2013 5:16PM
Nancy Petro (from left), Karen Weigand, Steve Eberhardt and Andy DeLuca are challenging incumbents in Tinley Park in April's election. | Supplied photo
Updated: February 15, 2013 6:09AM
Tinley Park mayoral candidate Steve Eberhardt and his running mates for the village board are not pleased that they won’t be allowed to have a campaign booth at the Discover Tinley Community Awareness Expo in March, just about two weeks before the April 9 election.
Eberhardt is running with trustee candidates Karen Weigand, Andy DeLuca and Nancy Petro.
At last week’s board meeting, Eberhardt took to task the current administration and Tinley Park Chamber of Commerce, which sent out a letter that said no political groups will be allowed to campaign at the March 23 event at the Tinley Park Convention Center.
Incumbent board members probably will be at the expo doing precisely that, Eberhardt said, although Village Clerk Pat Rea said that would not be the case.
Things came to a head when Eberhardt read a three-page letter to the board during the meeting Tuesday, leading to an exchange between him and trustees.
“You will talk with voters (at the expo) and highlight your perceived achievements, inextricably intertwined with the subtle but clear message to ‘Re-elect Team Tinley.’ That’s the power of incumbency,” he said, reading from the letter.
Eberhardt then paused and addressed trustees Brian Maher and T.J. Grady, who were talking and smiling as he read the letter.
“I don’t find it amusing, T.J. I don’t find it amusing, Brian. I really find it kind of offensive to stand here in front of the village board, looking at you people laughing at us,” Eberhardt said.
Maher said they were amused by the phrase “perceived achievement” and were not laughing at Eberhardt.
Eberhardt said he wants to be able to rent a booth with his running mates at the expo because he expects to see banners touting the current village board welcoming people to the expo. But there won’t be any banners touting the incumbents, Rea said.
“There will be no signs saying, ‘Vote for (Mayor Ed) Zabrocki’ or any of the incumbents. Music, rallies, working the crowd? No, no and no,” Rea said.
Eberhardt has his doubts.
“Every function (in the village), with the exception of one, they’ve had their signs out there, listing their names,” he said. The exception was a downtown Halloween event, he said.
Village officials have been around a long time, he said, and have familiar faces. It’s only natural that if they attend the expo, people may want to talk politics with them, he said.
The clerk and village will have informational booths at the expo, Rea said, “where people can ask questions about the village.” But no campaigning will be done, Rea said.
“Is there a value to incumbency? I guess there is. On one hand, it is public information. But does it step across to political information? No,” Rea said.
Weigand, who had her own brush with the board in 2000 when she and neighbors challenged an ordinance that didn’t allow their children to play in the streets, said she “was livid when I saw (Maher and Grady) giggling while Steve was talking.”
“That was very unprofessional,” she said.
She said she had hoped the candidates would get a booth at the expo “because it’s a great way to meet people.”