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By Anna Lothson
River Forest voters will have the chance to select five people for three spots for village trustee, but a decision last week by one candidate has left constituents with a unique dilemma.
If elected, Kevin Hanley will resign.
Hanley, one of the candidates running on the Pride in River Forest slate, announced March 20 that he's pulling his name for consideration for the April 9 village election, citing a personal conflict with Cathy Adduci, who is running as an independent for president.
Hanley tried officially to remove his name from the ballot, but the date for that has passed. This means he has the potential to still be elected. If elected, he said he won't serve, regardless of which candidate wins.
"Last week Cathy Adduci told me a lie, and it almost cost me a close, personal friendship in the village," Hanley told a crowd at a recent campaign event. "The possibility of working with Adduci and taking time away from my family and knowing I ever could never trust her is not the right thing for the residents."
"This has shaken me to the core and I have been wrestling with this decision since I learned of her actions," he added. "I cannot associate myself with her, and I don't know when she would be telling the truth or when she wouldn't be."
In a follow up interview with Hanley, he didn't explain details of the alleged lie but explained the situation.
"Cathy called me last week in response to my response to an email from (independent Trustee candidate) Tom Cargie. We talked for a long time about many things. But she told me two stories that I verified were untrue," he said. The two stories were about people involved in local issues, Hanley said.
Hanley's response to that email, which also ran as a One View in the March 20 issue of Wednesday Journal, said that Cargie sent a "widely distributed email alleging the village has been less than transparent, citing the approval process of the village's red light cameras."
In 2009, lobbyist Al Ronan, to whom Adduci is legally married, represented RedSpeed Illinois, one of the bidders in the red light camera contract. The board voted to go with another company and Adduci abstained from voting at the meeting.
In a phone interview with Wednesday Journal on Thursday morning, Adduci said she was unaware of the lie Hanley referenced.
"I'm in shock. I don't know what he's referring to," she said. "I am disturbed by the whole thing."
Adduci and Hanley spoke the week prior and Adduci said there was no mention at that time of his possible resignation or of the lies she allegedly told him.
Adduci said Hanley has been sending out campaign-related emails, where he called her out for lying, but she says she doesn't know what he's talking about. She said the only thing she did accuse him of was not writing op-ed piece that carried his name in the March 20 Wednesday Journal. The op-ed piece was also disseminated via email. Other than that, Adduci said she isn't sure what Hanley might be referring to.
"I've never sent a negative email. I've never said anything negative to anyone. I am disappointed that there are these innuendos going on," Adduci said.
Adduci also said she's confused about his decision to resign, since she might not be elected president.
"If you read the email, it says that he can't work with me as if I have won the election, when it is three weeks away," Adduci said. "What does he know that I don't know? Something is up and it's not right. I think it's bad policy. I've never said anything negative. …I am just shocked."
In a phone interview March 21 with presidential candidate Mike Gibbs, who heads the Pride in River Forest slate, he said the debate stemmed from a call that Adduci got from a friend of Hanley's about the op-ed email, which also appeared in Wednesday Journal.
Hanley and Adduci discussed the email and disputed issues about it, Gibbs said. He said he hasn't spoken personally to Adduci about the conversations.
"How do I argue with someone's opinion," Gibbs added.
Gibbs said he discussed the matter with Hanley and encouraged him to stay in the race, but Hanley said the best decision was to resign now.
"This would be all cleared if [Hanley's friend] came forward. The voters have to make a decision. … Did Kevin or Cathy lie? I know what Kevin said and I know what Cathy is saying now. Three people know truth. I'm pretty comfortable it will leave Kevin with being the honest one."
Gibbs said Hanley didn't want to win election and possibly have to serve with Adduci, since he said he could no longer "know when she was telling the truth." To avoid the chance of Adduci appointing someone to fill a vacant seat, Hanley decided to bow out now so voters would pick three other candidates. That way, the choice would remain up to the residents.
In the end, Gibbs said this issue isn't about his campaign or Hanley. It's about River Forest, he said, which he said would be better served if Hanley was a trustee.
"Kevin's integrity is really the variable," he said. "Not a lot of people would put their own reputation on the line to show their displeasure with a candidate."
Gibbs said this situation is uncommon but "speaks volumes" about what level he believes Adduci is sinking to win votes.
Despite being on opposing sides, Hanley said there hadn't been any conflicts until recently.
"We had had a mutual respect. … I understand it is more of a he said-she said. But there is a 50-50 chance that we could both be elected, and I don't want what happened on the [River Forest village] board four years ago to repeat."
The Pride in River Forest slate also includes trustee candidates Lissa Druss Christman and Tom Dwyer Jr.
"I don't want to be elected then need to resign because of a lack of trust. It's just not fair to River Forest residents," he said. "My skin is not thick enough. I feel like I'm letting my team down. I believe [the slate's candidates] would be the best choices."
"I'm trying to do what's right for residents," he said, saying he hopes voters will vote for those who still want to run. "I'm hoping I'm not [elected]," he said.
Steinke called after Hanley announcement
River Forest village trustee candidate Roma Steinke, who is running as an independent, said she was contacted March 20 by presidential candidate Mike Gibbs, asking her if he could offer his support for her campaign.
The call, she said, came just before an email was released, announcing that Kevin Hanley — a member of Gibbs' Pride in River Forest slate — was resigning from the trustee race.
Steinke, who is supporting independent presidential candidate Cathy Adduci, said she was puzzled and insisted she did not want to be part of the slate. Although she welcomed the support, Steinke said she did not want to be part of the Gibbs slate, since she chose to run as an independent.
Steinke said she told Gibbs it was OK for him to recommend her name as someone who was a good candidate, but she did not want to be attached to Gibbs' slate.
"I said I was running as an independent. It was very strange," Steinke said. "I told Mike I didn't understand why he was calling."
Gibbs said he was calling her simply because she is the village clerk and he wanted to inform her of Hanley's decision. He said he wanted to know if it was OK to offer his support in case he was asked the question who he would like to fill the third trustee spot, since Hanley was resigning. Gibbs said he wasn't asking her to join the slate.
Steinke said she is voting for Adduci because she is a better leader and more qualified. Steinke said she also didn't understand why Hanley resigned, and called the situation "bizarre." She said among the Pride in River Forest slate, she thought Hanley was the best qualified to be a trustee.
After learning of Steinke's comments, Gibbs said he wanted the third trustee candidate to be whomever the voters decide is best for the seat.
Slate hires consultant for polling
In an attempt to learn what voters care about, the Pride in River Forest slate called upon a private consulting firm to conduct phone polling.
The slate includes presidential candidate Mike Gibbs and trustee candidates Lissa Druss Christman and Tom Dwyer Jr.
Gibbs said in an interview last week that the phone poll provided no conclusive evidence for the group. He said the survey only provided an indecisive report from a small unrepresentative sample.
The group decided to tap into the new technology to see if they could reach more voters but the results didn't yield any benefits, Gibbs said.