• slefko

Today is indeed a great day.

I lost a local school board election but gained so much more in sticking my neck out for this great community. First, I want to thank the others who did the same 'first' thing. Allison, Matt, Hui and Katie you’re a really great bunch. I’m grateful for how much you care, how much you share and your willingness to stick your neck out for the children, families and future of River Forest.

Early on in December and January the most frequent comment I was receiving was ‘I am your supporter, but you won’t see or hear me because I’m afraid of what speaking up could mean for me and my kids still in school’. There are many in this group that I want to thank for telling me this. You quietly did the right thing for you and me; you affirmed genuine concerns and I gained courage in these important moments. The being afraid part is unsettling though and reminds me of a childhood lesson.

I can hear my Dad’s voice – sticks and stone will break my bones but words will never hurt me, he would say. There are a few among you that must have had a similar lesson whispered. You knew there might be choice words, rolled eyes and challenging times ahead by being public in your support. You know who you are and I can’t thank you enough for doing this, for keeping it focused on the education issues, the campaign and for being respectful…undoubtedly your kids will be leaders too.

I have a personal relationship of some degree with incumbents – some for years before this race and others newer over coffee and a good book. I’m grateful you three are willing to stick your neck out for kids, families and the future of River Forest. We don’t have to all agree on how to get there, but I still believe we’re all the same in wanting the very best for the children of River Forest. Thank you for your continued service; we’re going to need the very best of you.

We’ve talked today and I’ve given my sincere congratulations to Katie. She had kind words for me too. She deserves it and I think it’s great how much the family participated in what sounds like the beginning of tradition. I knew about her concerns and determination long before the campaigning. I was sitting near Katie once when she offered first-hand ‘thoughts’ to the D90 board on how kids needing extra help deserve better help. She was taking a chance then, boldly voicing a concern and it was refreshing to see. Katie, keep that fire, be sure to shine light too and you’ll do great.

I signed up for a non-partisan election because I don't have political aspirations and I’m more interested in volunteering to do the work than campaigning. Boy, I really blew that one (insert wacky emoji here!). The race between Katie and I seemed to, and eventually did, take a center stage despite we’re just two of eight candidates. I’m not sure either were really ready for some to try and turn this into an ideological battle. For what it’s worth, conversations Katie and I had about education long before the campaign didn’t involve politics. Although we have some similar and some different ideas on school stuff, it was easy to disagree and continue a fruitful discussion. I value this in Katie. Our family friendship was bonded when our two children became close buddies very early in Elementary. I think they both benefited from the assurance of a friend – together, and both better because of it. The amazing people inside those Lincoln walls helped foster this for years – the picture below from the end of their time at Lincoln. Friends, what grew up around our race was ugly, an artifact of issues that we can choose to keep out of our schools. I’m very confident in saying it’s not who or what either wanted or expected. I’ll share more on this later with a great book suggestion.

My own family deserves a I love you, a thank you and an I’m sorry. Girls I absolutely love you for loving me too – yup this includes the dog too. You were so patient with me using up time that normally went to us and I’m grateful for your understanding. We all knew engaging and eventually running was the right thing to do but none could have expected the lowest of the lows, the painful parts. I’m sorry you had to endure this, yet I know that because we did this together we’re all going to be stronger for it. We're probably not alone in this.

For some this experience could re-define friendship. I had this experience with the Conti family and especially Susan – someone who cares so much about and has served River Forest for so long. She stood by my side the whole journey and we're grateful. Thanks for listening, thanks for ideas, thanks for patience and gosh thanks Matt for feeding us so well and so often. You guys are the best!

Today is indeed a great day. And if we continue to work together tomorrow will be even better.

Much thanks



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