Des Plaines 7th Ward alderman fights challenger's campaign flier
A competitive race for a spot on the Des Plaines city council remains frosty with an alderman calling his challenger's campaign tactics "hateful" and "disturbing."
Seventh Ward Alderman Don Smith fought back against attacks from his opponent, Bob Porada, during an interview with the Daily Herald editorial board Tuesday, citing misleading parts of a campaign flier handed out to ward voters.
"I vote and I make my decisions on what I think is best," Smith said. "To read this junk that insinuates or says otherwise -- I find it hateful. I find it disturbing."
Porada, an attorney, distributed campaign fliers stating he's "angered by they bloated bureaucracy, ballooning payroll, and lavish expenses."
"When elected, I can't wait to take a big red marker to extravagant spending and outrageous budget requests," Porada wrote.
The flier went on to insinuate Smith approved $750 in taxpayer money for an outside studio to redo his photo, $45,000 for a "luxurious city hall executive suite" and $30,000 for a new car that's "seldom used."
These accusations are misleading. The city spent $750 for all elected officials to be photographed. Aldermen did not approve spending for the proposed upgrade to the mayor, city clerk and city manager's office in city hall nor money to replace the mayor's vehicle.
Porada admitted Smith is not corrupt -- walking back statements on the campaign flier -- but he argued Smith has shown the appearance of impropriety.
"He's been ethically challenged for a number of years," Porada said.
For example, Porada said, Smith has voted on city spending for the Frisbie Senior Center, where he's a member of the board of directors, and to renew a contract with Holland and Knight, a law firm employed by the city for legal services. The firm employs one of Smith's friends.
Smith denied the friendship had bearing on his vote. And he said he has disclosed his involvement with the senior center during city council meetings.
The campaign has been testy from the start, when Porada unsuccessfully challenged Smith's candidacy. Porada said Smith owed a city vehicle sticker fee when he took office, rendering him unqualified. The electoral board denied the argument, but Porada included the allegation in the campaign flier. Smith said the vehicle belonged to his daughter, who lived in another state at the time.
Porada describes himself as a reformer who will handle his constituents' concerns in a hands-on, direct manner.
"Sunshine is the best disinfectant -- I'm a firm believer in that," Porada said.
"You're throwing stuff at the wall without any facts," Smith told Porada.
Election Day is April 4.