HUNTLEY – The challengers vying for Grafton Township supervisor roundly pinned controversial legal battles and dysfunction in the township on incumbent Linda Moore during an election forum Wednesday night in Sun City.
On the defensive early, Moore argued that she has spent a marginal amount of taxpayer dollars on lawsuits “defending the township” against Grafton trustees, who she said have refused to set aside personal disagreements over policy decisions during her four-year term.
Moore tried to assure scores of Sun City voters watching the forum in Drendel Hall that the legal battles with the trustees would end as soon as they are out of office.
“There is no way to stop their spending with the lawyers as long as they remain in office,” Moore said. “Thankfully, three trustees will not be running for office again.”
Trustee Betty Zirk is the only incumbent seeking re-election in April.
Moore squared off with her two Republican primary challengers and the Democratic opponent in the April 9 general election for the first time Wednesday. The Sun City Civics Committee organized the forum that featured a variety of questions from residents in the retirement community.
Numerous times the Grafton Township supervisor said she spent a mere $60,000 in legal costs while trustees have spent $470,000 in court trying to remove her from office.
At one point, primary challenger Pam Fender shook her head after hearing Moore break down the lopsided legal costs. Fender, a longtime Huntley village trustee, wasted no time in criticizing Moore.
She called out the supervisor during her opening remarks for neglecting township services such as the senior bus system and rattled off her experience as a two-term village trustee, community organizer and leader.
Later, Fender tried to counter Moore’s assertion that dysfunction in the township was all the trustees’ fault. She recalled how current Trustee Jerry McMahon distanced himself from Moore after campaigning with her in 2009.
“It didn’t take very long for Jerry McMahon to figure out he had been duped,” Fender said. “Let’s put these last four years behind us, and the lawsuits on day one. Let’s just learn to get along.”
Primary challenger Marty Waitzman and independent candidate Jim Kearns also weren’t shy about the lack of leadership in the township. Both said they decided to run for supervisor because they were tired of endless legal costs and childish behavior between Moore and the trustees.
Waitzman, an attorney who has accounting experience, criticized Moore’s managerial skills when answering a question about the level of commitment needed to run a township.
Waitzman said that based on accounting reports he has seen, Moore could be spending less time trying to balance the township finances if she knew what she was doing.
“It’s a garbage in, garbage out concept,” he said. “If you put in bad information, then you are going to get bad information coming out, and it’s going to take twice as long to fix it. I don’t have that problem.”
All four supervisor candidates spent nearly 90 minutes answering questions about the Grafton dysfunction, township services and ideas for new programs.
Sun City resident and moderator Dave Rosenfeldt at one point had to remind the candidates to keep their answers concise.
He even entered the debate when he prevented Moore from answering a Sun City resident. The resident wanted clarification on what she called Moore’s “scare tactics” in trying to lower a board-approved property tax levy that the resident considered appropriate.
“If you want to attack any one of [the candidates] personally, get their number and call them up,” Rosenfeldt said. “We want to go forward in this township and not backward.”
Moore will face Fender and Waitzman in the Feb. 26 Republican primary. The winner will face Kearns in the April 9 election.