By Bob Uphues
Daniel Gribben, who has filed to run for Brookfield trustee next April, wants to make one thing abundantly clear:
He is not connected politically with anyone running for office in Brookfield.
"I am not aligned with either group," said Gribben. "I have my own political philosophy."
Gribben objected to an article published in the Landmark on Dec. 19, which stated he was aligned with Bill Russ, the former VIP Party chairman who is running as an independent for village president.
While admitting that Russ, indeed, helped him collect signatures and put together the petitions, he said that's where his connection with Russ ends.
"For you to say I'm politically aligned with him is incorrect," Gribben said.
Gribben turned to Russ for help after having had his nominating petitions disqualified by a PEP Party-dominated electoral board in 2011. At that time, said Gribben, Russ offered his help if Gribben ever decided to run in the future.
"I learned my lesson," said Gribben about his 2011 experience getting tossed off the ballot.
Gribben took Russ up on his offer. Russ offered people to help Gribben circulate petitions and afforded him the services of the same notary public.
Asked if he'll be campaigning with Russ, Gribben said he wouldn't discourage any candidate or political organization from endorsing him.
"If they think I'm a good candidate, I'm not going to tell them not to," said Gribben. "If PEP wants to put up a sign for me, that's fine. If Bill [Russ] does, that's fine. But our political views are different."
Gribben noted that he did not go to Russ' fundraiser on Dec. 10.
"It's just incorrect to assume that I'm one of his followers or have the same philosophy, which I don't."
Asked how he understood his relationship with Gribben, Russ replied in an email, "I will help anyone who wants to run for office in Brookfield. … Dan is his own man and has his own ideas."
A third independent candidate for trustee, Mitch Mierop, also shared resources with Russ and Gribben with respect to nominating petitions. Mierop's ties with Russ, however, are much closer.
Mierop was also a VIP Party member and ran for trustee on a slate alongside Russ in 2005. Russ' name also appears as the person who registered a new website touting Mierop's candidacy for trustee through GoDaddy.com on Nov. 7.