The Winnetka Caucus’ positions are set, but it didn’t come without a healthy dose of drama.
Two decisions were up for a full caucus vote during the organization’s fall town hall on Monday, Nov. 13, and both were close calls.
All voting-age residents of Winnetka are eligible to join the caucus, and the group is led by a caucus council of a few dozen — 42 for this year’s process. The council recommends candidates for open municipal positions each election cycle; the recommendations are then considered by the caucus at-large. Nominations can also be made “from the floor,” which means outside of the caucus recommendations.
Only one local board — the Winnetka Village Council (three seats) — will be featured on the ballot in 2024.
The caucus council also uses results of a community survey to draft plans and platforms meant to guide the work of Winnetka elected officials. The platforms are also confirmed by the caucus.
On Monday, caucus members virtually gathered via Zoom to make decisions after two caucus-council recommendations were challenged.
The council recommended a Village Council slate of incumbents Rob Apatoff and Tina Dalman and newcomer Dawn Livingston, a former Winnetka District 36 School Board member and president. Current Trustee Kim Handler was an alternate. The slate was challenged when Handler received a nomination from the floor, forcing a full caucus vote.
During Nov. 13’s town hall, each of the four candidates made a statement, introduced two of their supporters and answered questions.
The dialogue throughout the session occasionally grew tense. Apatoff scolded a caucus member for asking about a potential conflict of interest, calling a question about his wife’s involvement with the editorial newsletter YourWinnetka: SpotChecks a “cheap shot.” At other times, members scolded each other for the questions being asked.
In the end, Apatoff (71.1%), Dalman (59.8%) and Handler (58.6%) earned the caucus support and a place on the 2024 slate. Livingston (49.1%) finished on the outside looking in.
Caucus members also had to decide whether to accept an amendment to a Winnetka Park District plank regarding lakefront improvements. The caucus council recommended a plank that essentially supports the Winnetka Park Board’s ongoing efforts to renovate the Elder and Centennial beachfront. A significant caucus contingent thought the recommended plank included a misleading statistic — that 83% of survey respondents supported the park district’s plans — and did not contain strong enough language around the preservation of beachside parkland and the opening of Elder Park Beach.
The commentary mimicked Park Board testimony over the past two years with residents like Katie Stevens and Randy Whitchurch supporting the amendment and Park Board members, speaking as residents, Warren James and Christina Codo supporting the original plank.
The amendment was defeated 54%-46%.
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