Republican candidate for Regional Superintendent of Schools, Matt LeClere, has filmed campaign television commercials inside the school where he is principal, has distributed campaign pencils to children, parents and staff in the school since August, has had a “sign-in” clip-board for students and parents with a campaign pencil attached since the beginning of the school year. He has distributed signs and campaign literature on school grounds. What part of the word “ethics” does this man not understand?
A teacher now reports that LeClere has also e-mailed campaign requests from his office computer. One wonders what else has been done for this campaign on school property, time and equipment. Cecil Rednour, custodian at Nielson School reportedly spoke to LeClere about the pencils and LeClere denied knowledge of the conversation. Sounds like something Speaker of the House Denny Hastert has said many times over the last few months, and it’s not funny. One wonders that if, in addition to ignoring ethics rules and laws, LeClere is also a liar.
I’ve heard other stories about his rude comments about Bonnie Harris, current Regional Superintendent of Schools. LeClere has not been in town long enough, apparently, to understand how many people respect and love Mrs. Harris, whose thirty years as a teacher has incredibly been used against her in this campaign. Bonnie won her race for Regional Superintendent four years ago against a man who had been an assistant in the office for nine years. Voters know a good candidate when they see one, and Bonnie became the first Democrat, woman and black to be in that position in Knox County. In fact, she is the only African-American Regional Superintendent of School in the State of Illinois.
Bonnie not only taught school for thirty years, she has been active in the community, establishing advocacy groups for students of color at Knox College and scholarships for college bound students. She has been tireless in her efforts to encourage African-American children in the community. She has presented parenting workshops at L.T. Stone and Bright Futures workshop center. She has been on the board of KCCDD, Red Cross Youth Council, United Way Allocations committee, Leadership Greater Galesburg Committee, Congressman Lane Evans Academy board, Mississippi Valley Girl Scouts Council and Carver Community Action Center. When she presents parenting workshops, she can be a model, with four children who graduated from Galesburg High School and continued on to become a physician, lawyer, Staff Sergeant and mother of successful Galesburg High students and athletes. She and her husband, Jim, have eight grandchildren.
And if you think all of this was easy to accomplish in the discriminatory atmosphere of Galesburg, Illinois for the last half century, think again. It was not.
Bonnie Harris is my friend. She was elected four years ago because of her intelligence, honesty, kindness, grace, ability and educational background. Those attributes have become rare in political candidates. They should be rewarded, certainly with the ethical questions surrounding her opponent.
Caroline Porter is a freelance writer from Galesburg who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.