Two incumbents and a second-time candidate who was unintentionally drawn into an alliance with them triumphed in the hotly contested Lyons Township High School District 204 school board race that had distinct ideological overtones. 

Tim Albores

The three candidates supported by the Democratic Party of Illinois — Tim Albores and incumbent Jill Beda Daniels and school board President Kari Dillon — won the three seats being contested on school board defeating challengers Frank Evans, Tim Vlcek and David Herndon in a race that drew unprecedented outside involvement. 

The three winning candidates combined for 55.02% of the vote while the three candidates endorsed by conservative groups received 38.38% of the vote. Non-aligned candidate Justin Clark finished last with 6.61 percent of the vote.

“I’m over the moon proud of our community for showing up for this election, and I can’t wait to continue our work of the next four years,” Dillon said in a text message.

Albores, who finished last in the LTHS school board election just two years ago, went from last to first this time, receiving 7,256 votes to lead the field, according to updated unofficial vote totals posted by the Cook County Clerk on April 10. 

Jill Beda Daniels

Daniels finished second with 7,170 votes and Dillon won the last seat up for election with 7,072 votes. Herndon, the most moderate of the conservative trio, finished fourth with 5,283 votes with Vlcek receiving 4,079 votes and Evans 4,634 votes. Clark trailed the field with 2,576 votes.

 “I’m humbled by the support I’ve been given,” said Albores, a LaGrange Park resident who is a director of student services for Plainfield Community Consolidated School District 202. “This was not Tim Albores getting elected; this was Tim Albores and a lot of people helping him.”

While Albores, Daniels and Dillon ran independent campaigns, they became something of a slate when they received the endorsements from the Democratic Party of Illinois, the LTHS teachers’ union and the state teachers’ union and a newly formed local group called Support Our School, which was created to support Dillon, Daniels and Albores. 

Kari Dillon

One of the founders of Support Our School is Terrie Pickerill, a Democratic political consultant who lives in Western Springs. Support Our School sent out mailers supporting Albores, Daniels and Dillon and attacking Evans, Herndon and Vlcek. The group also bought and put up yard signs supporting Albores, Dillon and Daniels. 

Albores said being linked to the incumbents and having outside groups support them helped.

Daniels said she was gratified to be elected to another term and thanked all those who supported her. She said that the community made its voice heard in the face of some strident opposition to the incumbents.

“I think the community heard us and understood what we were up against, and they wanted to make sure that their voices were heard,” Daniels said.

Herndon, Vlcek and Evans received a late endorsement from the controversial conservative group Awake Illinois. Herndon disavowed the endorsement and Vlcek and Evans said that they had no connection with Awake Illinois and did not seek their endorsement. Nevertheless, some voters were concerned about the link to Awake Illinois. 

“I did not want to vote for the people being put up by the Awake group, absolutely not,” said Gail Petrenko, a retired high school English teacher who voted for Daniels, Dillon and Clark. 

Vlcek, who attended a candidate training workshop co-sponsored by Awake Illinois and another conservative group, said that he accepted the election results. 

“It’s OK, no sour grapes from me,” Vlcek said. “We did the best we could. The results are the results. I don’t know what else to say.”

A political action committee led by conservative activist and radio talk show host Dan Proft paid for a mailer that supported Evans, Herndon and Vlcek. Proft, who co-hosts a radio show on WIND-AM now lives in Florida, although he ran for governor of Illinois in 2010 and has spent most of his life in Illinois.

Peter Rijks, who voted for Albores, Daniels and Dillon, did not think that someone who lives in Florida should have become involved in a local school board race.

“If he wants to stay involved in local politics, he should stay here,” Rijks said.

Albores deplored the divisiveness of the campaign can end and said that he hopes the LTHS community can come together. 

“I really, really hope that we can get back to being a civil society that knows how to disagree respectfully,” Albores said. “There was a lot of ugliness in this campaign that made me sad and I’m hoping that we can come back together with very similar interests in making LT great.”