Orland trustee race raises one red flag
Kristen McQueary firstname.lastname@example.org | (708) 633-5972 March 18, 2011 10:38PM
Political workers from House Speaker Michael Madigan's (D-Chicago) ward and Chicago's 23rd Ward collected signatures on behalf of Molly McAvoy Flynn during her run last year in the Republican primary for the 37th House District. | File Photo
Orland Park Village BOard
April 5 candidates
Orland Park United: Patricia Gira, Ed Schussler, Carole Griffin Ruzich
Fiscal Voices for Orland: Steven Williams, John Brudnak, Molly McAvoy Flynn
Independent: Rich Kelly, John Fotopolous, Tom Cunningham
Updated: January 23, 2012 2:03AM
Orland Park voters who head to the polls April 5 face a list of village board candidates that includes seven newcomers.
Many of the new faces offer impressive resumes to guide the village during the next four years — including one candidate who gives me pause.
Molly McAvoy Flynn, who is running on the Fiscal Voices for Orland ticket, ran last year in the Republican primary for 37th House District.
She ran against Jeff Junkas but lost. Junkas advanced to the November election to challenge state Rep. Kevin McCarthy (D-Orland Park).
Flynn landed on my radar because she didn’t collect any signatures herself to get on the House district ballot. Instead, political workers from House Speaker Michael Madigan’s ward and Chicago’s 23rd Ward visited Southland homes door-to-door to collect signatures on her behalf.
She was, in my opinion, a “ghost” candidate who tossed her name into consideration to protect someone else — incumbent state Rep. Kevin McCarthy (D-Orland Park).
She kept Junkas busy during the primary, just by being on the ballot. He spent about $7,500 on mailings and printing because he had an opponent. The competition forced him to campaign for, basically, a full year.
The idea was to weaken him, just a scant, before he faced McCarthy in the fall.
Junkas ended up losing to McCarthy by 4 percentage points.
That’s my take on Flynn’s candidacy, having watched the same scenario play out repeatedly during the past 12 years I’ve covered Southland politics. Some of the gentlemen who circulated Flynn’s paperwork also put two Irish gals on the Evergreen Park ballot to muddy-up a race there.
It’s legal but a hoodwink to voters nonetheless.
It’s one way incumbents become beholden to Madigan.
Too often, government reformer-types are hyper-focused on campaign donations as the leash Madigan and other party leaders wield over their members. Lawmakers cannot be independent-minded because they depend on their leaders’ checkbooks. That’s part of it.
But really it’s the grunt work of political campaigns that latches incumbents to their masters.
Who wouldn’t want a party organization to do all the door-to-door signature gathering? Even better is an election without an opponent. The party apparatus makes that possible by attempting to kick opponents off the ballot. They have skilled, expensive election attorneys on staff.
So that’s why I pay attention to the names of circulators at the bottoms of petition sheets.
It’s why I monitor the legalities of removing candidates from the ballot. The end result is often a weakening of the democratic process.
Flynn disputes my take on the Junkas race. She said she was a sincere candidate but inexperienced in political campaigning. Not circulating her own petitions was “an oversight.”
“I am not a politician,” she said.
As a longtime Chicago resident before moving to Orland Park five years ago, her friends still reside in the city. They collected signatures for her. She is a busy, working mom of five young children.
“They were not necessarily Mike Madigan workers. They were, and are, my friends,” she said. “I have voted Republican in the past and Democrat in the past. I am more of an independent than anything.”
But the idea that Madigan’s political army would descend on Orland Park to help Flynn — who filed to run against one of Madigan’s favorite members, McCarthy — is too much for me to digest.
Regardless, Flynn thinks I raked her unfairly during her House race. She bristled when I raised the issue again last week.
“It’s not relevant. I am running for trustee now. I’m a mom on a mission. I’ve got five kids to worry about, and I think changes are needed in Orland Park,” she said. “We’ve got to get the property tax rebate back. Real estate taxes out here are like a second mortgage. And I am completely opposed to the Triangle project.”
She said village vehicle sticker fees, along with tax-increment financing districts, need revamping.
“We need fresh blood and new ideas,” she said.
Flynn is an accountant at Palos Community Hospital. She earned her master’s degree in business administration from Saint Xavier University. As a certified public accountant, her perspective likely would be helpful on the Orland Park Village Board.
Still, her ties to Madigan’s machine ought to be weighed along with her credentials.
“I would like to limit the political dealings that go on way too much in local government,” she wrote in her SouthtownStar candidate questionnaire. “I think Orland Park residents would benefit greatly if some common sense decisions were made rather than political maneuvers.”
I could not agree more.
I hope she means it.