The Triton College Faculty Association (TCFA) has endorsed Alfonza McKinnor and Irene Del Giudice for election to the Triton College Board of Trustees. The TCFA election board met Tuesday, March 6. Election subcommittee Chairman Judy Darst said the decision was unanimous.

Also unanimous, Darst said, was the committee’s decision to deny support to Oak Park resident Thomas Gary. Gary’s acknowledgement that he had spoken several times with Triton board Chairman Mark Stephens and the two Stephens-backed incumbents and received their formal endorsement was met with scorn by most Triton faculty, as well as considerable disappointment.

Since last fall a growing commitment has developed among Triton faculty and some staff to support candidates who will participate independently on the board, and not, as they put it, be a Stephens puppet. Gary, they believed, would be among that group.

“Now the real work begins,” said Darst on Thursday.

Actually, the political operation will build on groundwork laid last fall. The TCFA first became politically aroused in the spring of 2006 in the wake of the sudden and unexplained firing of popular former dean of students, Edmund Forst. Darst said Forst’s firing and his being unceremoniously walked off campus was “the last straw,” and acted as a catalyst for the faculty’s action.

Many people wore purple ribbons at the 2006 graduation ceremonies to protest the firing, including Del Giudice, who is running for reelection to the board. No one knows why Forst was terminated, not even Del Giudice.

“I never got a viable answer,” Del Giudice said of questions she posed to Stephens and others on the Triton board. “I don’t know to this day what happened. They just introduced the issue that Edmund Forst was going to be let go, and called for a vote.”

Del Giudice was the only board member to vote against Forst’s firing.

“I was so taken aback, I was so startled,” she said. “All I could say was ‘Why?'” she said.

In December, Stephens informed Del Giudice that he would not be supporting her for a third term on the Triton board, despite his continued support for the other incumbents, Diane Viverito and Riverside resident Stephen Kubiczky.

Darst said she didn’t want to telegraph the tactics her group was planning in the campaign, but indicated they intended to reach out to as many voters as possible in sprawling District 504, which serves Riverside, North Riverside and most of Brookfield, between now and the election on April 17.

“I think people will get involved if we go to the grass roots and get them motivated,” said Darst.

Neither Kubiczky nor Viverito have active campaign funds. However, both are staunch allies of Stephens, who is a central player in the Rosemont and Leyden Township Republican political organizations. As of Dec. 31, Stephens had $37,402.17 in his campaign fund, including $32,323 in itemized contributions, and $3,700 in transfers from other campaigns.

More importantly, Stephens has access to the significant financial and human resources of the existing political operations in Leyden Township, Melrose Park and Riverside Township, as well as the deep pockets of the regular Republican organization of Leyden Township.

Stephens did not respond to a request for comment on this and other issues.