Tension Sparks Among D159 School Board Candidates Due to Campaign Literature

School board candidates Stacy Cesta and Anna Briscoe say they have been targeted by incumbent Mark Franceschini and his running mate Bob Swale.

Mokena School District 159 Board of Education candidate Stacy Cesta addressed concerns that fellow candidates distributed literature attacking her campaign platform during the public comment portion of the school board’s Feb. 20 meeting.

“It saddens me that there’s already negative stuff,” Cesta told the board.

Cesta was referring to a campaign brochure for candidate team Mark Franceschini, an incumbent, and Bob Swale, who are running for two of the four school board seats opening up in April.

The literature was distributed as part of Franceschini and Swale's door-to-door canvassing efforts and states that a vote for Cesta or for candidate Anna Briscoe is a vote for “‘Yes’ on increase taxes.” Of candidate Jim Andresen, the brochure says “More spending = deficit.”

Franceschini and Swale told Patch that the brochures were designed to bring a discussion of taxes to the forefront. The candidate team said they are concerned that Cesta and Briscoe will formulate a referendum campaign if they are elected, because they lobbied in favor of the district referendum in 2011.

“We believe that we need to bring the issues up,” said Swale.

Briscoe told Patch that the campaign literature is inaccurate and that she and Cesta were targeted by Franceshini and Swale. Cesta said that she has not yet officially published a candidate platform.

“I don’t need anybody bashing me,” said Briscoe. “This is about the children of our school district and our community.”

The portion of the brochure about which Briscoe and Cesta are concerned is formatted to resemble an election ballot. However, candidates Jeff Regan, an incumbent, and Danielle Didrickson are not included on the brochure ballot and the names of Cesta, Briscoe and Andresen are spelled incorrectly.

Swale told Patch that the decision to include specific candidates and not others was based on space allotment and his and Franceschini’s knowledge of candidate opinions surrounding the referendum issue. He said that there was no specific reason for the misspellings.

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Jack February 22, 2013 at 07:08 PM
R-Dub, honest campaign based on what? Their flyer was pretty damning and there was plenty of room to post Regan and Didrickson name, so that's a lie. I don't care for people like that. It look's foolish. And other than saying no taxes, do they talk about how they will improve the education and help he school administrators provide the best for my kid's. NO. And why? because they don't have background in education or understand what these kids need. Let's all remember what a school board does. It help the teachers and administrators do their job's by taking their input on budgeting. Not over stepping their bounds to run a school their way when they don't have a background in education. LIKE making a decision on hiring a school superintendent by the applicants who apply. NOT wasting $17,000 on an outside firm to do it for them. That's lazy. That's something they could and should do. I don't tell my accountant how to do his job because that's what he was trained and educated to do. So why does this board feel the need to tell the administrators and teachers how to do their's. If I wanted to buy steroid's I go ask PAT. Gotta ask the people who know. Just sayin, provide some reasons to back people other than I FEEL they run a honest campaign. When I talk to people they better KNOW they do.
Aardvark February 22, 2013 at 07:24 PM
So 'Jack' and 'A Mom Who Cares' you say: - People who are against tax increases are selfish and should be glad to pay more. - That our older citizens should move south instead of living in their current community - You make personal attacks against people you do not know by calling them 'retarded' instead of making solid points on the comments page. - You are also making the point through your responses that Franceschini and Swale are right: this is about an upcoming tax increase just look at your quote Jack: ".....chose Mokena because it has the lowest tax rate compared to the other LW-feeder school towns. Which is why we need to keep our school quality up if we want our house values to be competitive to other areas. I don't think larger classroom sizes compared to other surrounding schools, outdated (12 yr old) textbooks put us on the map either. Add poor morale and lack of support from people like you and our town is not looking too optimal for young families." If any statement is building momentum for a "tax increase" that is it. Why do you think enrollment is going down Jack, in this town and across the state? It's because of the taxes. Businesses cannot afford the high taxes in this state and they leave. So raising taxes will exacerbate the situation. So if you want young families, you need quality schools as you said and low taxes. Young families I know avoided Mokena because of the taxes. They chose New Lenox instead.
Booksavvy February 22, 2013 at 07:34 PM
The bottom line here is that 2 of the 7 people running for the (4) open positions on the school board have decided they want to throw 3 of the others under the bus. First, I truly find it hard to believe that if these 3 candidates were not inbetween them on the ballot, this would be happening. Second, I see plenty of room for the additional names. Finally, the mis-spelling was either done on purpose to avoid some sort of legal fall-back, or out of ignorance. One path to chose...which one, gentlemen? The fact is, this is a school board election. The same school board that is working to eliminate bulliying in our schools. Why are two potential members bullying other candidates? I would rather see literature about what a candidate will do for our school board. Instead, I see a flyer that panders to the voter about how they do not want to raise taxes! Gee, I think you are going to be pretty hard-pressed to find someone who says they want a tax hike. Maybe R-W Voter can work on this with all this free time on your hands. Swale and Franceschini need to stop placating the public with their buzz-phrases (LOWER TAXES!!! LOWER DEFICIT!!!) We all want these things. Lets put on our big-boy pants and work on real solutions, and less name calling. And as for R-Dub, I find your discussion of how things were "back when you went to school" irrelevant. Society changes and with that so does our education. How many computers did you work on in your private education?
Mad at Dad February 22, 2013 at 07:36 PM
Try again Aardvark. 2012 tax rate Mokena 7.2168 and New Lenox was 7.8874.
30 YEAR MOKENA RESIDENT February 22, 2013 at 07:39 PM
Will there be teachers out in force destroyign campaign signs again because if i catch them on video like I did last election There will be someone prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law ,The group Cesta and Briscoe also have been caught red handed by property owners and sign people destroying and stealing signs my video cameras are up and running please attempt this again because it is now a felony in Illinois to destroy alter or take any signs or literature from authorized property!!!! Mark and Bob I need more signs now I have 6 empty lots on major roads you can place them on anytime !!!
Mad at Dad February 22, 2013 at 07:47 PM
Well said BookSavvy. From the Patch articles about the online bullying, it was a parent that did all of the research and brought the program to the school board. Nice that Franceschini is taking all of the credit! 'Just a thought', he sure is finally showing Mokena who the bully is.
A Mom Who Cares February 22, 2013 at 07:53 PM
Aarvark, you need some clarification. First of all, don't include me in the name calling. I have not said the R word nor did I say that "old people' should move south (that was Jack) and I don't know who said people who are against tax increases are selfish and should be glad to pay more. Secondly, that was my quote and NOT Jack's. My quote was NOT AT ALL implying anything about any upcoming tax increase. I was actually saying that Mokena has the lowest tax rate in the surrounding areas contrary to what JDub was saying why people are leaving Mokena. School quality should be an important factor if we want to maintain house values or at least stay competitive. How you get school quality does NOT mean you have to increase taxes. The one does not imply the other. The young families that you know that chose New Lenox were willing to pay alot more in taxes for a good school system. So, what is your point?
A Mom Who Cares February 22, 2013 at 07:59 PM
Well said BookSavvy!! However, those 2 people are actually throwing FOUR people under the bus. I am referring to the other current board member. What kind of message does it send that one current board member (who "rubberstamps" everything Pat Markham wants) is not pairing up with the other current board member? What about teamwork and respect? I thought they were both part of the "NEW" board. So, why are they not teamed up? Is it because one follows everything Patrick does and the other one thinks for himself??
A Mom Who Cares February 22, 2013 at 08:01 PM
Too bad it is not a felony to put opponents' signs (signs that have paper covering Patrick Markham's old signs) on candidate's lawns (obviously without permission) as an intimidation tactic. I got the video as well!!! You know who you are.
Aardvark February 22, 2013 at 09:07 PM
So pointing out an opponent's past position on an issue affecting all voters is now considered bullying? What's next, pointing out that some have more relevant experience than others? So what solutions do you see BookSavvy when enrollment has declined 26% in 7 years, taxes taxes are up 33%, while real incomes in this state are down 3% since 2010? Pointing these facts out is a bullying tactic? You talk about "big boy" "big girl pants." I ask you this: why was there a $2M deficit in 2011 that got turned around into a $100K surplus in 18 months? Perhaps the "old board" orchestrated by Perry was a rubber stamp and populated by people that accepted everything she said at face value? It seems the people who are wearing the big boy/girl pants are those that have the wherewithal to say no to something; instead of going along with the program for years. In regard to solutions to problems: Why is it when the old board was in charge, 9 year old textbooks (now 12 according to Jack) were not a problem then but they are now? Maybe some solutions are things like ebooks, which have new info in them each year at less cost? How come the pros as Jack calls them, who he says should provide the budgets the board should pass, haven't jumped at ebooks? Maybe because they don't know or maybe because they haven't been pressured to know? Holding the professionals accountable is the board's job, not being all pleasant and saying "What do you want?" and then voting in favor without question.
R.W.Voter February 22, 2013 at 09:10 PM
Thank you, Aardvark
R.W.Voter February 22, 2013 at 09:18 PM
Two of the candidates have advocated for a referendum of more money from the taxpayers. That is in addition to the yearly levy that is requested. These are facts. I have learned that Mark and Bob have pledged to keep taxes low. That is what I want. I firmly believe that there is still a lot more waste that can be cut. I say that we find out how much per student it costs in our system and offer the parents vouchers to use at private institutions. What do you think? Thank you.
Thank you! February 22, 2013 at 10:32 PM
Rw how are you such an authority on public schools when it appears you have never stepped foot in one? You could care less about the children in this community. It also appears that you have no idea that schools can no longer rely on Illinios to help fund them. They are 2 payments behind. The money needs to come from somewhere and I for one would be willing to pay higher taxes so our children get the education and technology they need to be successful in life and not sitting around complaining on a blog. Maybe a public school education would have opened your eyes as to how the real world works or maybe you should have gone into education and become a teacher if you think they have it so easy.
Booksavvy February 22, 2013 at 10:35 PM
I am merely saying the way the "ballot" was presented was very negative and therefore I think it is a bully tactic. Once again, I challenge you to find a resident of Mokena that really wants higher taxes. None of the other candidates have put any sort of literature out yet. I'd like to see what they all have to say. If I personally had solutions, I would readily give them, but I think it's incredibly small minded to assume that because a person supported a tax referendum, they have nothing more to bring to the table than higher taxes. Why is alright to say that 2 people who ardenly supported the referendum are useless on the board, but 2 people that are vehemently against it are the clear answer? I would hate to pay higher taxes-my family works hard for a living and we aren't looking to spend more. However, I'm also not in a postition to say that someone who supported the referendum is the enemy. Perhaps a person passionate enough to be willing to pay more on their tax bill will have the drive to come up with other solutions as well.
Frank H. February 22, 2013 at 10:40 PM
I find it extremely disgusting that the pro-tax referendum flyer that was circulated was endorsed by our township assessor, Krall. For a person that is a big part of establishing our already-high real estate taxes, he should keep his nose out of tax issues. How dare he take sides in this issue. Stick to your political games and leave the referendum to us.
Thank you! February 22, 2013 at 11:44 PM
One more thing RW, have you noticed that bread is no longer .10 and milk is no longer a quarter? Yet people are still buying these things ( I know crazy right). Why are they still buying them you ask, because they are essentials to life... Just like a good education is essential... Guess what the price of a good education has to go up too! And I haven't seen a whole lot of employers looking for employees that have " good cursive writing." Wake up ... Times are a changing !
Mokena Citizen February 22, 2013 at 11:54 PM
Frank H.- WHERE did you ever hear that Kral (only one L), our township assessor, supported the referendum???????? I certainly never heard or read anything of that nature. I bet if Mayor Werner were running, you would say he was for the referendum as well.
R.W.Voter February 23, 2013 at 12:01 AM
I realize that, but bread is not the same as it was . I feel that a good education is essential, but in most instances I do not feel that a child has the chance for one in the public schools. I equate it with the cost of cable tv. You get it but it really isn't worth what you are paying for it. Thank you
Thank you! February 23, 2013 at 12:07 AM
Again I will ask you ... How do you know this if you haven't been a part of a public school? You are welcome!
R.W.Voter February 23, 2013 at 12:35 AM
I entered this before, but it didn't get there. as a child growing up in the city of Chicago, I played with public school students. Later in life, one told me "anybody can graduate from Bogan. Later I worked for the City. I dealt with public schools like Lane and Wells on the North side, Clemente on the West side and Bogan and Fenger on the south side. I have dealt with teachers strikes and riots at public schools. I see the kids that go to Mokena schools and St. Mary's . Believe me if I had children of school age, I would get a side job to send them to St. Mary's. My grandkids go to a suburban school, I wish they didn't. A friend has a child who went to school in Frankfort, failed english test 4 times, he graduated and then went to Lincolnway. I know too much. Glad my father did too. Thank you
Tired of Hacks February 23, 2013 at 01:53 AM
I have known one of the mis-spelled candidates for a LONG time. I find it exceedingly odd that the faux platform staes "more spending=deficit" in regards to a man who is a financial planner-his job for years has been to keep people OUT of deficit spending. Toss in the fact that this is for a SCHOOL BOARD and the thing is rife with falsehoods and mis-spelled words and I really question how qualified those who sent out that flyer are!!!!!
Anna Schier February 23, 2013 at 05:38 AM
Jack and R.W. Voter, Comments that include offensive or derogatory terms are in violation of Patch's terms of use and will be deleted. Thank you for reading, Anna
Marcia February 23, 2013 at 06:20 AM
I have lived in Mokena for 26 years. We moved here for the "blue ribbon" schools. District 159 is a shadow of what it once was. My children had a wonderful education there with caring teachers. I believe that anyone that is resorting to Chicago-type politics for school board positions, do not deserve these positions. Crony politics do not belong on our school board. Jim Andresen didn't have anything to do with the PAST referendum work. As far as I'm concerned, people that work as hard for our schools as Anna Briscoe does, deserves a chance to serve. The old referendum is a moot point-it's over and dead. I was appalled when I read something from the president of our school board that spelled "buses" wrong. Really? Swale and Franceschini are cut from the same cloth. I think the sign stealing remark is ludicrous! Young families do not want to buy in Mokena, because district 159 is not as good as it once was. It is sad, but hopefully this will be fixed with some new people on our school board. People that have, or will have children attending the schools, and care about their education.
R.W.Voter February 23, 2013 at 02:10 PM
The schools in general have declined due to the power of the Teachers union. They are the biggest drain on the system.But when you have pro referedum people trying to get on the board all you are going to get is higher taxes. The quality of the education will not get any better. Some teachers are not as good as others and as long as they have a union, you will never be able to get rid of them. The young eager to teach teachers getting out of school will not have a chance to do their thing unless the senior members retire. Thats it. Increased taxes will not improve the education, maybe just increase the employee's salaries and give more freebies. I will still vote for two, Swale and Mark. Thank you
Frank H. February 23, 2013 at 04:34 PM
Hey Mokena citizen -It looks like you don't get around much or you are blind to the information out there concerning the referendum. I have seen the pro-referendum flyer with kral's face smack dab in it twice. Now if you are ignorant of that flyer, that's fine, but don't defend him if you are aware of the flyer. He's not worth it. He is not helping us with lowering our home's value because of the economy, but he is supporting a tax increase! What kind of public servant is that. Don't defend a politician that gets his marching orders from another politician. And let's make sure we don't ever pass a referendum that will raise our taxes. The current school board is doing a fine job with the finances and my children are doing fine with the education they are receiving and with the extra-curricular activities they are involved in. Let's keep our school board and get rid of the township politicians who are spending OUR money for their own good. They paid $1.5 million for a condo building and then put their political cronies in it. Talk about taking care of each other.
Mokena Citizen February 23, 2013 at 05:36 PM
I would like to see this literature you are referring to. I was part of the group and there was NEVER any literature that we sent out with ANYONE's picture in it. Maybe it was the anti-referendum's flyer. The referendum is a moot point now - it is no longer even on the radar so I don't understand why it is even an issue. Also, I think you are using this forum to get you jabs at Kral. I don't really know him but I am tired of people flat out lying! Show me the literature- check who it is from. You can upload it just like Swale and Fran's brochure has been uploaded.
Dee Miller February 23, 2013 at 06:32 PM
48 comments on this article and only a hand full of them actually pertain to the contents of it. Every public election I have ever seen, no matter what it is for, candidates pick and choose points of why they should be elected over their opponents. All I see so far from this article, is two women, that want to make decisions for my children, whining about their names being spelled wrong on a brochure that they did not pay for. Should have just put Minnie Mouse, Daisy Duck, and Goofy on the made up ballot instead of giving them the exposure, because quite honestly, I didn't even know they were running until now.
john Q Adams February 23, 2013 at 07:31 PM
Bravo DEE Miller! It is almost as if supporters of the Two or Three candidates mentioned drag the discussion way off topic. (pres of board mispelled a word!!). OH MY. Point IS: The Three Candidates a prone to advocate TAX INCREASES. However informing voters of their choices, as the ballot did, is a terrible thing! Did anyone notice the candidates mentioned say ANYTHING was NOT TRUE? So let the voters know you stood and stand for Tax Increases and Let the VOTERS decide who should represent them. Maybe the candidate’s supporters DRAG this WAY off TOPIC as You can fool some of the people all the time, and those are the ones you want to concentrate on. Swale and Franceschini are for living within the budget, the others have tried to increase the budget. (easy way out). It sure looks that way with the PRO REF activities and statements made.
R.W.Voter February 23, 2013 at 08:38 PM
Frank H. February 23, 2013 at 11:13 PM
If you are a Mokena resident, I'm surprised you didn't see the flyer talking about us needing to pay more taxes to save the extracurricular activities. And right there is kral's picture. And why shouldn't we be against that political hack. He's the one who increased my house's assessment, which means more taxes, and then he favors increasing taxes to save school activities on top of that. And going in to talk to him got us nowhere. Handed us a line of bs about our subdivision's value being under assessed, but yet my neighbors didn't go up, just me. So you go ahead and defend him...you must have gotten a nice reduction and will pay less taxes.


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