At least two stalwart local Republicans have declined a request by Marilyn Smolenski, a Park Ridge resident and mother of two, to sign her nominating petitions to be placed on the March primary ballot for the 55th Illinois House District.
Maine Township Trustee Kim Jones confirmed Monday that she would not sign Smolenski’s petitions when she was recently asked to do so, adding that Maine Township Clerk Peter Gialamas also refused to sign.
Jones said even though Smolenski will be the apparent candidate to run against incumbent Democratic State Rep. Marty Moylan in the November 2018 general election, she decided not to sign her petition forms because of Smolenski’s recent criticism of some Maine Township board members and her conduct at a recent meeting.
“She doesn’t know us and she doesn’t know the issues,” said Jones on Monday. “At the last meeting she was criticizing us and making faces while seated in the front row.”
A day after the board meeting, Jones said she was asked by Smolenski to sign her petitions during a fundraising gathering of the Maine Township Republican Women’s Club. Said Jones, “You learn this in kindergarten — to work with people and to be friendly and nice.”
Township board members participated in a raucous meeting at Maine Township Town Hall on Sept. 26. The main contentious issue was the recent hiring of Kelly Schaefer to help operate the township’s food pantry. Schaefer narrowly lost reelection to the town board last fall. Elected were newcomers Claire McKenzie, a Democrat, and Susan Sweeney and Dave Carrabotta, both Republicans. Sweeney is also president of the Republican Women’s Club of Park Ridge.
During the board meeting, Sweeney, Carrabotta and McKenzie grilled Supervisor Laura Morask on her hiring of Schaefer to the 30-hour per week, $30,000 per year job following last fall’s election. Schaefer was hired because the food pantry’s hours were expanding and of her role to attract more donations, Morask has said.
About three weeks ago, Smolenski announced at a Republican Women’s Club of Park Ridge meeting that she is a candidate for the job Moylan now holds. She is also a member of the political organization that Sweeney heads. Smolenski is the owner of an online company named Nickel and Lace, which sells special gun holsters for women.
An attempt by the Journal & Topics to talk with Smolenski last week was unsuccessful. She said she could not talk at that time, but agreed to call the newspaper back — something she has yet to do.
Smolenski’s campaign chairman is Maine Township Republican Committeeman Char Foss Eggemann, a close friend of Sweeney’s.
“I think Marilyn is very nice, but I didn’t care for the manner in which she handled the situation,” said Jones, referring to the recent township board meeting. She explained that at that meeting she asked critics of Schaefer’s hiring if they had any remedy for the situation.
“They didn’t have anything to say,” Jones said.
During the debate, critics of Schaefer’s hiring repeatedly questioned whether Morask had the right to hire Schaefer on her own. Morask and others said that two legal opinions confirmed that she did have that right. Sweeney, Carrabotta and McKenzie said that they should have been involved in the hiring process.
At the Sept. 26 meeting, Carrabotta said the board should review the new food pantry job and “reopen the issue.”