Board of Education campaign season heats up

The D128 Board of Education has four seats up for grabs in the upcoming election on April 6. With 10 candidates in the race, Don Carmichael and Kevin Huber being incumbents, the race is the most contested election in more than 15 years. 

With COVID-19 being a hot-button issue among other stakeholders, the election has become more high-profile. 

According to Mr. Pat Groody, the current Board President, while some candidates may have set out to run about whether or not school should reopen, the community must consider not only the present but also the future when voting, considering that those elected will serve a four-year term. 

“I really think it’s important for residents to look at candidates in a much broader context than just where they stand on that one issue,” Mr. Groody said. “Candidates [if elected] are going to be very thoughtful and deliberate, considering all sides of a whole bunch of different issues—not just whether or not we should be in school during this pandemic.” 

Community member Ms. Rebecca Gaples created the D128 School Board Candidate Forum, a Facebook group that anyone can join to learn more about the candidates.

“There’s [10] candidates, and I didn’t know how else we were going to be able to get information on the candidates without having some sort of forum,” Ms. Gaples said. 

Candidates have also created websites, planned fundraising campaigns, and provided information on individual Facebook pages for people to get more specific information about their platform.

While these Facebook groups are an effective avenue to gain more information about candidates, they are also getting divisive. 

Some candidates have made polarizing statements about members of the school community, specifically about teachers in favor of remote learning and LGBTQ+ students.

“I think some of the comments [made] really just illustrate a lack of understanding of the role—a lack of understanding of what it takes to be a good board member—and, quite frankly, they’re very divisive,” Mr. Groody said. 

According to Mr. Groody, a fundamental concept of the Board is working together despite any ideological differences. 

“The decisions that the school board makes are made as a result of the collective input of the Board,” Mr. Groody said. “For whatever that final decision is, the expectation is that other board members will support that, even if it’s not the decision they would have made all by themselves.”

As candidates attempt to get their message heard, many members of the community believe that it’s important to engage in the election. 

Student Board Representative Diego Corrales (12) explained that when he became a student representative, he realized that the Board really does affect him. 

To him, the main question is simply whether the best interests of the community and neighborhood are being represented or not.

“I think kids should keep up with [the election] because, chances are, they’re going to know those people running,” Corrales said.

For more information on each of the candidates, community members and students can attend virtual candidate forums, reach out to candidates directly, and read up on their respective platforms and values. 


Candidate Information


Don Carmichael

Carmichael moved to Libertyville in 1990 and is running for reelection. 

Platform Points: Continued excellence, growth in equity, and fiscal responsibility

Key reason for running: To continue supporting the district’s mission regardless of the pandemic

Jim Connell  

Connell has been part of the D128 community for 11 years and graduated high school from LHS.

Platform Points: Improving the quality and timeliness of communication, supporting and building the district’s high level of academic achievement, and exercising fiduciary duties to taxpayers 

Key reason for running: Giving back to and continue serving D128

Chris Coughlin

Coughlin has been living in Libertyville for 11 years, with a sophomore daughter at LHS and twins that will be incoming freshmen.

Platform Points: A voice for constituents, partnership, responsibility and being fiscally sound

Key reason for running: The COVID-19 situation and the status of schools opening

Kevin Huber 

Running for reelection, Huber has lived in Libertyville for more than 23 years and graduated from LHS in 1986. 

Platform Points: Working successfully with the new Superintendent and providing the necessary support, reuniting the community and overseeing how D128 manages its financial resources 

Key reason for running: Bringing continuity and institutional knowledge to the future board

Sonal Kulkarni 

Kulkarni has been part of the D128 community for 18 years, having moved to Libertyville in 2003. 

Platform Points: Preparing for tomorrow through equipping students to thrive in a complex, dynamic and global world, celebrating diversity, building a healthy community and spending strategically

Key reason for running: To preserve this awesome school district with two very successful schools

Dale Sherman 

Sherman has been part of the D128 community for 10 years. 

Platform Points: Serving the students above all, opening the schools safely, completely and immediately, easing the heavy tax burden on the community, negotiating better, and providing teachers the best infrastructure the district can responsibly afford

Key reason for running: Wanting to give back through service for a long time, with the main catalyst being the mishandling of the COVID-19 response

Cara Benjamin 

Benjamin has lived in Vernon Hills for most of her life, graduating from LHS in 2001 and moving back to Vernon Hills to raise her own family.

Platform Points: Collaborating with families, the administration and other Board members, maintaining high-quality educational experiences, fostering a safe and inclusive atmosphere for students and families with diverse educational needs, applying a balanced and pragmatic approach to budget oversight and ensuring a safe and healthy return to learning

Key reason for running: Her desire to serve the school community that has given her so much 

Kara Drumke

Drumke has been part of the D128 community for 19 years. 

Platform Points: Continuing the successful trajectory of the district, supporting the D.A.R.I.N.G mission,  ensuring a culture of excellence in curriculum, services, programs, faculty and staff, supporting and celebrating the diverse student population with a safe environment and practicing good governance and financial stewardship

Key reason for running: With the desire to serve her community, the school board was the most natural progression and an environment where she could be most effective

Katy Talerico

Talerico moved to the D128 community in 2011, deciding that the schools provided the educational experience she desired for her children.

Platform Points:  Continuing the excellent academic and extracurricular opportunities D128 offers, evaluating if wise financial decisions are being made, balancing the needs of all stakeholders through listening and considering everyone’s thoughts, and guaranteeing a safe and effective learning environment for all

Key reason for running: To combine her passion for and knowledge of children with a desire to give back to her own children’s high school community, helping to create opportunities for District 128 students


Candidate Sean Gay did not provide information to be used in the article.