An outside anti-tax and pro-educational choice group run by someone who describes himself has conservative Christian homeschooler sent out an automated phone call this morning urging voters to vote for Ed Jepson, Matt Sinde and Mike Welch in today’s Riverside-Brookfield High School District 208 Board of Education race.
The group, For Our Children’s Future, which was founded last year by Lennie Jarratt and is based in Round Lake Beach, paid for the automated phone call and a mailing last week that mentioned no candidates, but criticized Riverside-Brookfield High School for declining test scores and high teacher salaries.
On its website, For Our Children’s Future describes its mission as recruiting, training and helping candidates “who will bring fiscal sustainability to their elected office,” empowering parents “to ensure their children are not trapped in failing schools” and fighting “the efforts that limit taxpayer rights by forcing property owners to do their own tax appeals or hire a lawyer.”
Jarratt told the Landmark on Tuesday afternoon that Jepson, Welch and Sinde had no knowledge of his group’s phone call, mailing or support.
“All of our work has been totally independent of the candidates,” said Jarratt, who ran unsuccessfully for the Illinois State Senate last year. “The candidates had no clue that we were doing this at all. We just did this on our own as an organization that was concerned about results in education versus the spending.”
Jarratt, who describes himself on his Twitter profile as a “Pro Liberty, Conservative Christian Home Schooler,” said that he never contacted Jepson, Welch or Sinde or any of the other District 208 school board candidates.
“I did not contact any of them directly, because we wanted to keep this as a totally independent venture for this and other school districts, so we stayed independent of the candidates themselves,” Jarratt said.
He said that he researched the District 208 candidates using Google. Jarrett said that his organization was active in about 25 school board races around the state.
“We were reviewing school districts around the state and Riverside-Brookfield was one of them that we came across that had high increases in salary and negative results in their education,” Jarratt said.
One of those receiving the calls was Welch himself, who said that he was as surprised as anybody to get the phone call urging him to vote for himself.
“It was very odd,” Welch said.
Welch said he knows nothing about the group.
“I had nothing to do with this nor do I know who had anything to do with this, and I don’t believe it was any of the three candidates who had anything to do with that,” Welch said. “Basically I don’t understand what their position is and why, without asking me, they think whatever unknown position they have is something I would or wouldn’t support.”
Jepson also said that he knew nothing about the group and said that he would prefer that outside groups stay out of local school board races.
“Obviously outsiders can do whatever they want, it’s free speech, but I really would never encourage outsiders to come into elections like this and be involved,” Jepson said. “It’s really none of their business.”