UPDATED: Tuesday, April 13, 2021
In less than a month there will no white men on the Lyons Township High School District 204 Board of Education. That will almost assuredly be a first in the history of Lyons Township High School, which was founded in 1888.
The new board seated next month will consist of six white women and one Black man.
“That’s a big change,” said Julie Swinehart, who led the field of six candidates receiving 4,448 votes, according to the Cook County Clerk’s unofficial totals as of April 12.
Swinehart is the first openly gay member of the LTHS school board.
“I’m deeply honored to learn of the broad-based support for my LT school board run,” Swinehart said.
Former District 102 school board member Dawn Aubert finished second with 4,080 votes. Michael Thomas, also a former District 102 school board member who was appointed to the LTHS school board last year, is believed to be the first Black member of the LTHS school board. He finished third with 3,718 votes. Thomas was the only incumbent in the field. Both Swinehart and Thomas graduated from LTHS.
LaGrange resident Jill Grech claimed the last spot on the school board by finishing fourth with 3,407 votes.
Falling short in the race were LaGrange Park resident and Plainfield school administrator Tim Albores, who finished fifth with 2,880 votes. Ricardo Martinez finished last in the field for the second consecutive election receiving 2,946 votes, though that’s 466 more than he received two years ago.
Many voters in school board elections know little or nothing about the people they are voting for. Sometimes they make spur of the moment decisions at the ballot box and have trouble remembering whom they voted for minutes after casting their ballot.
“I picked the ladies and the Latino man,” said one Brookfield man who declined to give his name after voting at the LaGrange Community Center on Washington Avenue.
Ilene LeGros of Brookfield said she voted for Grech because she knows her but confessed that she knew little about any of candidates other than Grech, though she said she had read candidate profiles published by the Landmark.
Judi Lundberg of Brookfield voted only for Thomas because she really wanted him to get elected and did not want to cast a vote for a candidate who might beat him. Lundberg said that she knows Thomas from serving with him on a committee to promote equity and minority student achievement in District 102.
“He’s a good guy,” Lundberg said. “I know him very well. I have two Black children, so equity is an important issue for me in the schools. He’s really done a lot to champion that.”
Albores, who also happens to be Hispanic, said that he wasn’t sure why he wasn’t elected, but noted that his name was last on the ballot.
“Certainly, I think name recognition may have played a role in it,” Albores said. “I certainly think the other candidates likely just campaigned better. … I certainly feel confident in the abilities of the four going forward and applaud them for their win.”
Martinez said he was not surprised at finishing last despite waging an active campaign this year and two years ago while continuing to be active between elections.
Martinez didn’t think that being a male was a big factor in his two defeats.
“I’ve been told that statistically women are more likely to get elected to school boards, but I think if it’s a factor it’s a small factor,” Martinez said. “I think it has more to do with your longstanding community involvement, living in the area for a long time, having a large network.”
Martinez said he has lived in the district for just under four years. Martinez, who said that he is not likely to run for office again in the near future, said the new school board will be more representative of the community.
“It’s good to be younger, more diverse and have a better representation of opinions,” Martinez said. “It’s something to be excited about, more progress.”
LaGrange attorney Jill Beda Daniels was elected to a two-year term on the school board in a race that was uncontested after incumbent Jessica McLean withdrew her candidacy.
Julie Swinehart led the field in the Lyons Township High School District 204 school board race as three women and the first Black member of the LTHS school board were elected to four-year terms in a field of six candidates.
Swinehart, who may be the first openly gay member of the LTHS school board, was leading the field with 4,200 votes with 55 of 55 precincts reporting, according to unofficial results posted by the Cook County Clerk on April 7.
“I’m deeply honored to learn of the broad-based support for my LT school board run,” Swinehart said in text message to the Landmark Tuesday night. “I was part of a highly qualified field of candidates. I’m very much looking forward to serving if the results hold.”
A pair of former LaGrange-Brookfield District 102 school board members, Dawn Aubert (3,875 votes) and Michael Thomas (3,521 votes), appear to have finished second and third, respectively.
Thomas, who was appointed to the District 204 school board last year and is believed to be the first Black member of the LTHS Board of Education, was the only incumbent in the field. Both Swinehart and Thomas graduated from LTHS.
Jill Grech looks to have captured the final seat on the board by finishing fourth with 3,247 votes.
Falling short in the race were LaGrange Park resident and school administrator Tim Albores who is in fifth place with 2,913 votes, and Ricardo Martinez, who looks likely to finish in last place for the second consecutive election. He has 2,769 votes.
Elected to a two-year term was LaGrange attorney Jill Beda Daniels who had an uncontested race after incumbent Jessica Mclean withdrew.
The LTHS board will be radically transformed. Four new members, Swinehart, Aubert, Grech, and Daniels will join the board next month. They will join Thomas, who was appointed to the school board only last year, and Alison Kelly and Kari Dillon, both of whom were elected two years ago.
This story has been changed to update vote totals.