On Tuesday, April 4, there will be a consolidated election in McHenry County, as there will be elections all over the state; and as part of that election, my community will be voting to fill two seats on McHenry County College’s Board of Trustees.
And it’s a big deal.
Elections are always a big deal; I know this. They’re a big deal, and everyone should educate themselves about elections in their communities (even though it’s sometimes a pain to do research), and everyone should get out on election days and vote (even though it’s not always convenient to go vote on a random Tuesday in April).
But you know what’s on the table for this election, and for the school where I’ve worked for over a decade? Civility, decency, and education itself.
See, out of the four people running for the two available seats on MCC’s Board, there are two reasonable, measured, thoughtful human beings: Linda Liddell, an incumbent running for her seat, and Tom Allen, an MCC alumni.
Liddell and Allen are friends of MCC: they are pro-faculty, pro-student, and pro-education. MCC’s faculty and staff unions have both endorsed Liddell and Allen. I’d place a safe bet that nearly all (maybe 99.99%) of MCC’s employees are going to vote for Liddell and Allen. I’m voting for Liddell and Allen.
And wouldn’t it be nice if we could just end it there? With some laminated signs and a bit of silliness? It would be, right? But we can’t.
We can’t end it there because the woman who’s running for one of the two open spots is a terrifying person. Her name is Diane Evertsen and she needs to be discussed.
Evertsen was, and likely still is a member of the “Minuteman Project,” a group designed to watch the U.S. border in an effort to keep out illegal immigrants. Evertsen published posts on her family’s Minutemen Midwest blog (yes, her family had their own Minutemen blog) about President Barack Obama and undocumented immigrants, and the language used on the family’s blog is unfit to repeat. Why is that language used by Evertsen and her family unfit to repeat? Because it’s despicable, racist language.
In 2010, the Evertsens tried to purge the internet of their work by deleting the site, but someone archived them on a separate blog to prevent the family from hiding.
But these archived posts are not the only traces of Diane Evertsen’s problematic views. In 2008, the Mexican Consulate visited Harvard Junior High School to register community members for consular ID cards, and Evertsen, a resident of Harvard, protested. She gave a three-minute presentation to the Harvard school board. Her message was intolerant but not surprising, given her affiliation with the “Minuteman Project.”
Harvard is a small town about twenty miles from MCC, and it’s one of the towns our college serves. While McHenry County’s Latino population is about 12%, estimated by recent U.S. Census data, Harvard’s Latino population is about 37%. These residents of Harvard attend my college — I have four students from Harvard in my classrooms alone — and the growing Latino population in McHenry County as a whole is a population that the college is actively engaged in serving. According to MCC’s 2013 Environmental Scan, the college wants to join other institutions to “be seen as a successful bridge for students stepping out from their local communities into the global economy” (pp. 27). The report goes on to say this:
Successful performance in today’s rapidly multicultural workforce requires sensitivity to human differences and the ability to relate to people from varied cultural backgrounds. Thus, an increasingly important postsecondary educational outcome is helping students become more comfortable and competent in moving personally and professionally among cultures of the world. A related outcome is to prepare students to engage in worldwide activities related to education, business, and social interaction. (pp. 27)
Evertsen does not seem to show sensitivity to human differences. In fact, she seems to show the exact opposite. This is not a person we want sitting on the college’s Board of Trustees.
Evertsen and her running mate are promoting a platform of no new taxes, which is the platform that contributed to the reduction in force of nineteen MCC employees earlier this month, including four full-time faculty members. If the Board of Trustees continues to refuse to vote on a tax levy in the upcoming year, this first RIF will not be our last.
Many residents of McHenry County are anti-tax. We have some of the highest property taxes in the state, and the community doesn’t like it. In November, Crystal Lake residents voted down a $132 annual household tax to build a new library. That’s right: $132 a year, per household. For a public library.
So I’m fearful that these same voters will stop their investigations at Evertsen’s campaign slogan. Please, voters: keep digging. There is much more to this person, and none of it is good for our college, for our students, or for our community.
I write this post in an effort to spread the word about Evertsen and to encourage everyone to get out and vote on Tuesday, April 4. School districts in Palatine and Elgin are also facing important votes, including votes about restrictions on transgender students’ rights to use the bathroom. This isn’t an election to sit out. There is no election to sit out.
Whether your town is voting for mayor, alderman, school board, or legislation, find out what’s best — what’s not racist, not intolerant — and then go out and support it in the most democratically empowering way you can: by voting.