Local organization holds zoom meeting to question candidates for upcoming election (Grefenstette/LION).

Olivia Grefenstette, Opinions Editor

On April 4, local residents will be able to choose among eight candidates for five open positions on the Lyons Township School Board.

Incumbents Jill Beda Daniels and Kari Dillon are running alongside Tim Albores, Justin Clark, Frank Evans, David Herndon, and Tim Vlcek. Former candidate  Jill VanHimbergen dropped out of the race. 

The League of Women Voters, an organization dedicated to registering and educating voters, hosted a virtual candidates forum on March 13 from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.

This forum was a means to inform voters about candidates and their stances on specific issues facing the school, voter service director for the local league Melissa Lieb said. Prior to the forum, residents had the opportunity to submit their questions for the candidates to the League who would then choose which ones to ask during the meeting.

“I believe that the organization comes up with really great questions to vet candidates so that residents can get a more accurate picture of who they would be voting for,” candidate Albores said.

During the forum, candidates were afforded one minute for an opening statement at the beginning and one minute for a closing statement at the end of the session, time permitting. There was a trained moderator present, not from the LT school district, who asked candidates on-the-spot questions and kept the forum on track of time. The candidates all had an equal opportunity to answer posed questions and were afforded roughly one minute to do so.

The local League of Women Voters has hosted these candidate forums since its inception in 1924 and is involved in informing voters about most elections, not just on school board matters. Prior to the pandemic, these forums were hosted in person at LT. 

However, the League has found benefits from holding forums over Zoom that has caused them to continue even after COVID-19 restrictions were lifted, Lieb said. The League has seen increased participation, especially among working parents, in these events when they are virtual as it allows residents to tune in wherever and whenever they can. Furthermore, virtual forums are more cost-effective and allow the League volunteers to host more events more frequently. The forum was screen recorded and posted on the LT website afterward for residents to watch at any time.

Regardless of personal politics, the League encouraged residents to participate in this forum.

“This is an opportunity to get your voice heard and a chance to exercise your democracy,” Lieb said.