The Examiner U-46 News Feed
As U-46 race heats up so do debatable tactics
By Seth Hancock
As the campaign for the School District U-46 Board of Education election, which is on April 4, heats up and the possibility of outsourcing part of the district’s transportation continues to be discussed, the District U-46 Transportation Union (DUTU) has decided to make it a campaign issue.
DUTU has been represented at several board meetings recently to oppose the possible outsourcing, which could lead to a savings of $3.9 million over the next three years according to the First Student proposal, but board members have remained silent including the three incumbents on the ballot: Cody Holt, Veronica Noland and Donna Smith.
However, Holt alluded to a gag order of sorts when asked by The Examiner if he supported the outsourcing proposal by saying he “can’t really talk about what is going on in collective bargaining right now.”
Holt did say that he “can talk to you about what my belief is on outsourcing in general, and I’m inclined to support whatever is fiscally responsible to the taxpayers that I’m here to represent.”
The Examiner questioned Holt after a DUTU member publicly made an unsubstantiated claim of wrongdoing on the part of Holt’s campaign.
Shawn Bernhardson made a social media post on Feb. 16 on a page with over 9,000 members from U-46 claiming: “It’s been brought to our attention that people supporting Cody Holt are canvassing Bartlett Township telling them that they are part of (DUTU), and to vote for Cody because he supports unions and that he is not for the outsourcing.”
“That’s the first lie they are telling” the post continued and “Cody has being called out telling untruths and now his supporters are also. This man cannot be allowed to serve on our school board.”
The post offered no evidence of any “untruths” Holt has said nor of the claim of campaign misconduct, and Holt told The Examiner that this claim was fabricated.
“To my knowledge, I’ve been the only person who’s been out walking Bartlett for my campaign,” Holt said. He added: “I believe that their claims are absolutely false.”
DUTU has been telling its members to canvass for the “U-46 Forward” endorsed candidates which include Noland, Smith and challenger Melissa Owens.
The Examiner asked Bernhardson if the person making the allegation would go on record, but Bernhardson refused saying “I made no allegation against Cody Holt.” Despite several attempts of pointing out that an allegation of misconduct against Holt’s campaign was made, Bernhardson continually refused.
With a public sector union throwing out unsubstantiated claims against a candidate it doesn’t support, is it possible that more dirty political games can be expected from DUTU this election cycle? Heather Weiss, DUTU’s president, was asked if she condones her members making unsubstantiated claims on political opponents and if she will encourage her members to campaign honestly on issues rather than throwing out smears and hoping they stick, but she did not reply.
Holt said: “I’d say this is very typical to the games that public sector unions like to play in the election cycle. They like to rile up their base and do anything that they possibly can do to get their members out to vote.”
“This campaign cycle, you’re going to see a lot of distractions coming from people who want to retain the status quo, and the public sector unions are part of those people who want to retain the status quo,” Holt added. “But what we have to continue to focus on is making sure that we keep our taxes low, freeze property taxes preferably, make sure we increase academic achievement, increase transparency and lower our debt. Those are the issues people care about, not these petty things that are created by special interest groups.”
There are five candidate for the three seats on the board including challenger Enoch Essendrop who spoke about the outsourcing proposal during public comments at the board meeting on Monday, Feb. 27.
“This measure is not anti-union, it is pro taxpayer,” Essendrop said. “According to reports, as we know many of these people will remain unionized. We have the unique opportunity to save money in a world where government seems to only spend it.”
Essendrop added that U-46 should “resolve to be a district that meets the needs of all of our students, but not at the expense of our taxpayers and not at the expense of common sense.”