A group of Republicans is hoping to get the support of voters at the Dec. 4 Wheatland Township GOP caucus.
Vowing change, a slate led by current clerk Chuck Kern is hoping voters will back them at the event, scheduled for 6:15 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at John F. Kennedy Middle School in Plainfield.
After four years as clerk, Kern hopes to fill the role of township supervisor, a position currently filled by Todd Morse.
Kern said the slate is running together and in support of each other.
“I think certainly the primary message we’re going to put taxpayers first,” he said. “We wanted to be able to go to the voters with a unified message.”
Deputy clerk Bill Alstrom is also part of the group’s slate, seeking to move into the clerk’s spot.
“This group came together as a result of dozens of people at the special township meetings in 2011 asking for an honest and responsible alternative to the current elected officials at Wheatland Township,” Alstrom said in a press release issued by the group.
“A lot of people are involved in this because of the building issue,” Alstrom said, referring to voters’ efforts to put a stop to plans to build a $1.5 million township facility at 103rd Street and Route 59.
At a town meeting in August 2011, electors came together to overrule officials, voting down plans to build a new facility and instead ordering the township to sell the land.
Stirring the building controversy further was a proposal introduced last spring to look into the feasibility of putting a park on the property rather than selling it.
In August, anonymous reports of code violations prompted Morse to request another public meeting to revisit the issue of a new building, resulting in a stalemate.
Read — Stalemate: Tie Vote Means No Town Meeting for Wheatland
“Right now, it’s just chaotic,” Kern said. “The philosophical differences are so broad [the current board] can’t get anything done.”
Deb Holscher and Mike Crockett, who served on a committee to study the space needs of the township, are hoping to seek election to trustee spots as part of the group’s slate, along with fellow Wheatland residents Raquel Mitchell and Ben Peterson.
“We directed the government to listen to the people,” said Holscher, who spearheaded efforts to put a stop to the building project.
Meanwhile, David Monaghan has thrown his hat into the ring for township assessor, Ben Peterson is vying for the tax collector’s seat and Scott Bishop hopes to run for highway commissioner.
The candidates say they hope to unseat current supervisor Morse and what they referred to as “his faction” in their press release, accusing Morse of continuing to “sock away tax money to funnel cash to the defeated township building.”
“There has been a distinct lack of accessibility and respect for township residents’ concerns over the past term,” Monaghan said. “Transparency has become a real issue.”
Highway Commissioner Candidate Scott Bishop said residents have been treated with disrespect.
“As highway commissioner, I will better serve the taxpayers by bringing back respect and responsible government to Wheatland Township,” he said.
“We need transparency so people know where their tax dollars are going and why. We need to re-evaluate how much the township takes and how those tax dollars are spent so it makes sense,” trustee candidate Mitchell said.
Township residents who voted a Republican ballot in the March 2012 primary are eligible to attend the Dec. 4 caucus.
Alstrom said he anticipates a turnout of 300 to 500 voters.
Current trustee Joe Hudetz, who does not plan to seek re-election, said he helped put the slate of new candidates together and expects to be challenged at the Dec. 4 caucus.
"The old guard is very upset with us and if they don't get on the slate, they plan on abandoning the GOP and running as independents," Hudetz said via email.
King: Group members are ‘extremists’
Reached Wednesday afternoon on his cell phone, Morse said he was busy with work, but pledged to return Patch’s call. As of late Wednesday, he had not done so.
Meanwhile, trustees Frank King and Doug Haddad both said they had no plans to seek re-election in 2013.
While Haddad had no comment on the group of Republicans’ bid to drum up support at the Dec. 4 caucus, King said he wanted no part of the effort.
“There’s a group of extremists that have taken over our local party and I do not want to be part of that group,” he said.
Remaining trustee Karl Karantonis did not return a message left Wednesday by Plainfield Patch.