Awake Illinois founder, ex-council member says those trying to kill their appointments on Naperville boards want to ‘silence’ opposition views – Chicago Tribune

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Naperville’s Shannon Adcock and former Naperville City Councilman Kevin Coyne say efforts to halt their nominations to serve on city advisory boards will prevent residents with similar views from being heard.

Last weekend, a letter and email writing campaign and an online petition was launched on change.org to urge Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico to reject the nomination of Adcock for the Special Events and Cultural Amenities Commission and Kevin Coyne for the Board of Directors of the Naperville Public Library to reconsider.

The petition challenges Adcock’s views and those of Awake Illinois, the advocacy group she founded.

Mayor Steve Chirico plans to appoint Shannon Adcock — founder of far-right anti-DEI, anti-Black History, anti-mask and anti-LGBTQ Awake IL — to the City of Naperville’s SECA Commission. SECA stands for Special Events and Cultural Facilities and has made grants to Naper Pride (LGBTQ organization) LWV (which publicly demonizes Shannon) and cultural minority programs,” the petition reads. “Shannon has personally attacked many people who disagree with her (including attacking friends and family of those people) and threatened to fire teachers.”

A similar online petition was launched on change.org on Thursday in support of Adcock and Coyne’s appointment.

The petition said Adcock was “a kind and loving mother who is dedicated to volunteering in the community. Following her transparent engagement on education and civil rights issues, a very worrying contingent of extremists in the community began threatening, harassing and defaming her in early 2021. This has been happening for over a year.”

Both online petitions were set up anonymously.

Coyne, who decided against re-election to the council after a failed bid for a DuPage County board seat, said he finds it ironic that efforts to suppress his nomination and Adcock’s were being carried out by people who speaking about the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion.

“But obviously they are not sincere. What they really mean is they want to include people, as long as those people align with their political ideology,” Coyne said

What’s hard to believe, he said, is that the city has gotten to a point where people with opinions that don’t agree with the majority on the podium “have to be canceled and not even serve their community on a volunteer board.” be able”.

Adcock says she’s not backing down because when she backs down, “the abandonment culture wins.”

“I think it’s absolutely symbolic of the fact that we can no longer have different viewpoints, dissenting opinions, diversity of thought when this radical, breaking culture voice gets entangled in you. They’re trying to destroy you,” Adcock said.

After losing a race for the Indian Prairie District 204 school board last year, Adcock said she was encouraged to get involved, to apply for an advisory board position and just raise her voice in the community.

Adcock said she knew if she was nominated people would object on social media posts, but not in the way she saw it this week.

Regarding Adcock, the opposition petition said: “An extremist like this has nothing to do with being appointed to a city commission designed to promote justice for all.”

Adcock said there was no basis for the allegations and public slander “other than that they really don’t like me”.

Regarding her nomination for the SECA commission, Adcock said that given her background in the photography industry and growing up in the performing arts, she was probably the most qualified of the people interviewed.

“No one really bothered to ask me about my personal experience, whether it was about LGBTQ or civil rights issues,” Adcock said. “But if they did, they would understand a little bit more where I come from in my worldview.”

What they would see, she said, is her advocacy as a parent of three and for issues affecting children in education.

“Somehow they just rallied to assume that I’m kind of a bigot or a biased, hateful person,” Adcock said. “There is absolutely nothing they can ever use against this allegation.”

Coyne said he also finds it ironic that people raising questions about Adcock being caustic do so far more in the social media posts and rhetoric they espouse. “You can’t have both,” he said.

He said much of the political discourse in Naperville has been taken over by Naper Gals, which he describes as a “very left-wing group”.

“I’ve been active in Republican politics, and that’s a total stopper; there is no place for that in their worldview,” he said.

Naper Gals organizer Holly Hootman denies she is a left-wing extremist, and neither is the group, she said.

“I know there are many independents and libertarians in the group. I’m a moderate myself,” Hootman said. “I know we had Republicans in the group. We have had Republican candidates in the faction in the past.”

Not everyone in the Naper Gals’ Facebook group always agrees, she said, particularly on issues like universal health care and gun control.

“Ultimately, we all believe in affordable healthcare, we all believe in climate change, and we all believe that people should have a FOID (Firearms Owner Identification) card and lock things up,” Hootman said.

What Hootman resents are the inaccuracies in the online petition in support of Adcock and Coyne, such as: In early 2021, they coordinated an attempt to damage the school board by circulating a petition originally titled “t” and changed to “does not support CRT (Critical Race Theory)” after legal threats of defamation. They used a woman of African American descent to support their efforts by asking her to correspond with her and then going to the media.”

Hootman said Naper Gals never engaged in vote-rigging, nor did group members “use” anyone to correspond with Adcock to aid in their efforts.

The petition against Adcock and Coyne’s appointment relates to allegations of racism and insensitivity made during the District 204 school board race over a reported email exchange between Adcock, a school board candidate, and his co-parent Asafonie Obed -Horton showed up.

Obed-Horton said no one forced her to contact Adcock, nor did she conspire with anyone.

“I am a mother of four children. I contacted her about my concerns about what she had on her website was different, I felt, than she believed. I just wanted to have a conversation with her, communicate honestly with her,” Obed-Horton said.

When she emailed Adcock asking about culturally-responsive instruction and his intent to address implicit bias, racism and privilege in public schools, Adcock’s response included a suggestion that Obed-Horton and other parents open a charter school with a culturally-responsive curriculum, Obed said -Horton.

“I don’t think everyone in my circle should believe the same things as I do and I know we can agree to disagree on some things. I really just wanted to talk to her,” Obed-Horton said. “I never thought she would react the way she did.”

Obed-Horton said it was only after stories were published that she was invited to join groups like Naper Gals.

The Naperville City Council is not expected to vote on the nominations for either body Tuesday, but residents will have an opportunity to contribute during the public forum portion of the meeting.

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