Critics raise questions about allegedly misleading campaign mailer in District 233 race

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Critics raise questions about allegedly misleading campaign mailer in District 233 race

April 04, 2021 - 00:00
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As Tuesday's Election Day approaches, a campaign mailer that presents itself as representing a Homewood-Flossmoor High School teacher endorsing two candidates is being criticized as not a true representation of a staff member.

The campaign piece, delivered to homes in Homewood and Flossmoor on Friday, goes on to state that the “teacher” is a “taxpayer” with high standards, and she is “grateful for leaders” Annette Bannon and Beth Larocca. 
 

Click the image to see the complete mailer. 

The material is being called out for being misleading because the photo is not of a teacher or staff member and it accompanies a quote in which the woman says she is “… a teacher who helps determine the quality of education at H-F.” However, the quote is unattributed.
 
“I’ve seen the flyer (for Bannon and Larocca) and I understand why people are upset about it. The flyer is dishonest and unethical — period,” said board member Gerald Pauling.
 
The two are running for reelection in the District 233 school board race against incumbent Steve Anderson and challengers Michelle Hoereth, Jimo Kasali, Cynthia Turnquest and Lakesha Spight.
 
In an online post in response to the mailer, Bannon said the piece that includes a quote from the “teacher” is “being misinterpreted. No harm was intended toward anyone.” The mailer, underwritten by Citizens for Better Education, was approved by Bannon and Larocca, who knew the photo was of a model and not an H-F staff member.
 
“We were not trying to misrepresent ourselves or H-F in any manner,” the social media post states.
 
The Chronicle reached out to Bannon and Larocca for comment but did not get a response.
 
Two weeks ago, the Homewood-Flossmoor Education Association, the teachers’ union at H-F, endorsed Anderson, Hoereth and Turnquest in the race and sent out its own mailer to residents. Dana Noble, president of HFEA, reiterated that the photo does not represent an H-F staff member. 
 
Noble acknowledged that H-F teachers are free to make endorsements for candidates, but said he would expect they would put their name with their endorsement. 
 
Pauling, who serves as chair of the board’s Personnel Committee, said, “If they (Bannon and Larocca) knew, and approved, and allowed that flyer to go out, then people are rightly concerned about intentionally being misled. How could the candidates know that a model with made up quotes was being put on their flyer, but not see that what they were depicting was misleading?”

There are some who argue the statements in the mailer about their efforts to cut excessive spending and working collaboratively with teachers and the administration are false or misleading.
 
In the online post about the mailer, Bannon said the messages in the flyer are their way of “.... just continuing to share our message of fiscal responsibility, improved student success and as with this post ... greater transparency.”