Ex-Alderman Challenges Rejected Caucus
Candidate For Lake Forest Mayor
Jonah Meadows, Patch Staff
Posted Mon, Dec 19, 2022 at 6:42 pm CT|Updated Mon, Dec 19, 2022 at 6:48 pm CT
The Lake Forest Caucus slated a mayoral candidate who was rejected by caucus members in a vote that officials now claim was "non-binding."
Former 1st Ward Ald. Prue Beidler, at left, has launched a campaign as an independent candidate for Lake Forest mayor, challenging the Lake Forest Caucus committee-recommended candidate, former 3rd Ward Ald. Randy Tack, at right. (Campaign photos)
LAKE FOREST, IL — After Lake Forest Caucus last month voted against endorsing the mayoral candidate recommended by a caucus committee, another finalist has launched an independent bid for mayor.
Prue Beidler, who served as 1st Ward alderman from 2014 to 2020, and Randy Tack, who represented the 3rd Ward from 2012 to 2018, are both seeking to succeed outgoing Mayor George Pandaleon in the April 4 elections.
The Lake Forest Caucus is an 88-year-old local political party that slates candidates for mayor, City Council, school boards and municipal boards or commissions. Its membership is composed of all of the city's more than 15,000 registered voters.
According to caucus officials, about 500 people showed up to vote at the group's annual meeting on Nov. 9, which is normally only attended by about 100 residents. And approximately two thirds of participating voters voted against Tack's candidacy, which was endorsed by the 43-member Caucus Committee.
But caucus officials blamed "special interests and misinformation" for the result of the vote and decided to disregard its outcome and nominate Tack anyway.
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Beidler, according to an announcement from caucus representatives, was the committee's second pick. At the annual meeting, caucus members were not permitted to vote on any candidates other than those recommended by the committee.
Caucus officials said Beidler has "reneged" on a commitment to support the caucus process and "invalidated" any caucus endorsement by sending a message to the community encouraging people to come out and vote.
According to a copy of the message provided by the caucus, Beidler does not tell people how to vote or how she plans to vote, although she said she was upset to learn that there were no women candidates recommended for any City Council seat.
Nonetheless, the Lake Forest Caucus website falsely claims that Beidler "actively encouraged people to reject Dr. Tack."
Last month's meeting marked the first time on record that caucus members have voted "no" on a committee-endorsed candidate, caucus officials said.
"The Caucus Committee consulted attorneys on the Caucus Committee, as well as outside legal counsel with domain expertise on the best path forward. It is very clear that the bylaws do not dictate how to proceed after a negative vote," caucus representatives declared in a statement. "Similarly, the vote is non-binding." Following the meeting, the League of Women Voters of Lake Forest/Lake Bluff area sent a letter to the caucus' executive committee and the Illinois State Board of Elections noting that the party's bylaws do not describe votes as non-binding.
In fact, caucus bylaws call for the committee to recommend people, while the general membership is eligible to "vote on matters presented for Caucus approval" at all public meetings, and "a majority vote of those members present at a duly convened meeting shall be required to take action on any matter presented for a vote." Leaders of the local League of Women Voters chapter said the group "does not condone," the caucus' move, noting that a significant majority of members voted not to support the committee's recommendation.
"Based on your bylaws, and your invitation to members to attend your annual meeting, we believe your general membership had a reasonable expectation that their vote would be counted," the letter said. "Rejecting your membership’s majority vote violates your bylaws and undermines the democratic process."
Patch asked caucus representatives why the organization holds non- binding votes and why caucus members are not permitted to vote on more candidates than those recommended by the committee. Any answers received will be added here.
On Monday, Beidler submitted nominating petitions to City Hall and officially launched her campaign for mayor. She has emphasized that she would be the first woman ever elected to the volunteer position of Lake Forest mayor. Mayors traditionally serve for a single, two-year term.
"I have long supported the Caucus system. I was proud to serve as a Caucus candidate for alderman for three terms and pleased to have been interviewed as a finalist for mayor this year. Although disappointed by the Caucus Committee’s decision ultimately not to endorse me, I was prepared to step aside. However, at the Caucus’ annual meeting on November 9th, a significant majority of community members present voted not to endorse the Caucus Committee’s endorsed candidate for mayor."
While caucus representatives did not release the vote totals, they said 3 percent of registered Lake Forest voters attended the annual meeting and 2 percent voted against Tack.
"While I still have faith in the Caucus system, I knew at that moment that the public’s trust had been compromised and voters of Lake Forest deserved a choice for mayor," Beidler added. "Encouraged by many Lake Forest residents, I chose to run as an Independent candidate for mayor."
Tack, an orthopedic spinal surgeon who chairs the Lake Forest Central Business District Planning Committee, described the launch of Beidler's campaign as "unfortunate," telling Pioneer Press that her mayoral bid is unnecessary and divisive.
“This is all about Prue Beidler wanting to be the first female mayor of Lake Forest, and I think she has a sense of entitlement to the decision," Tack said.
“I don’t have a sense of entitlement to it, and I’m not thrilled about doing this because I am not a politician," he told the paper. "I’m a doctor, and I work to solve problems and this is what I do. This for me is very uncomfortable but I am committed to doing it, and we will see how it goes.”
Caucus-endorsed candidates are running unopposed for the four City Council seats on the ballot.
Ald. Ara Goshgarian, 3rd Ward, will serve another term on the council, where he will be joined by newcomers Terence Mieling in the 1st Ward, John Powers in the 2nd Ward and Richard Walther in the 4th Ward, according to City Clerk Margaret Boyer.
Local electrical engineer Paul Hamann is also set to appear on the ballot as an independent candidate. He has previously run for Congress and the 2nd Ward Lake Forest alderman
Caucus officials said the organization is considering changes to its bylaws as a result of this year's meeting, using quotation marks to describe the membership's vote.
"We understand the uncomfortable position of not following the ‘vote’ of the community at the Annual Meeting," it said. "Notwithstanding our present decision, going forward we will need to adjust how our Annual Meeting functions to avoid this issue in the future."
Potential changes include adding language explicitly declaring that the votes of its general membership are not binding on party leaders, or including some quorum of registered voters required to make a vote binding, caucus representatives said in a series of answers posted on the party's website.
"We need to ensure," it said, "that the many months of hard work and hundreds of hours of diligence expended by the volunteer members of the Caucus Committee can’t be undone in a few hours by a clear minority of the community comprising special interest voters."