Lake Forest Caucus Snubs Voters Once Again, Ignores Public Vote Results

The leadership of the Lake Forest Caucus has once again ignored the decision made by its general membership, which is the second time this has happened in less than two years.

In the organization’s spring meeting, which happened earlier this month, the attendees voted 132-125 against a proposed group of new officers. The meeting is one of two public meetings held every year by the entire caucus membership. This includes all registered voters in the city of Lake Forest, as required by the organization’s bylaws.

The organization’s bylaws state that officers should be elected at the spring meeting. However, this year’s meeting did not follow this rule and did not elect any officers. At this year’s meeting, voters were given the opportunity to vote either “yes” or “no” on the entire executive committee slate, rather than voting on individual members separately.

Chris Benes, who is the president of the Lake Forest Caucus, recognized the outcome of the vote that took place on April 2 at the Gorton Center. He promised to share more details after a meeting on Thursday with the Caucus Committee.

The committee consists of nine members from each ward and seven officers. They “overwhelmingly confirmed” the officer slate, according to Benes. In a message to the community on Friday, the caucus president stated that there was only one person who met the requirements and was willing to be the president of the organization according to its rules.

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“According to Benes, the Caucus Committee has decided that these Committee members will be the best leaders for the Caucus in 2024-25, as there is no clear guidance in the Bylaws on what to do after the Spring Meeting. This decision is made to ensure the Caucus can continue its mission,” Benes said.

Under the leadership of Benes, the caucus, a nonpartisan political action committee that has been in control of local government in Lake Forest for almost 90 years, tried to change its bylaws last year. The change would have taken away the chance for the general members to vote on the committee’s endorsements for municipal offices.

The proposed changes to the bylaws, called the “Caucus Preservation Act,” needed at least two-thirds of the votes to pass at the annual fall meeting. However, they only received 45.5 percent of the votes from the more than 1,500 attendees.

The caucus leaders followed the results of the November 2023 vote, even though they had ignored a previous “no” vote from members the year before. Out of the around 500 people who went to the 2022 fall annual meeting, about two-thirds voted against Randy Tack becoming the mayor. However, the leaders of the group decided that the vote didn’t really count, even though the rules of the organization don’t say anything about that.

Shortly after Benes announced the same group of officers that the voters had rejected – President Joe Oriti, Vice President Regina Etherton, Secretary Dale Tauke, Treasurer Fred Brewer, Fundraising Chair Jennifer McGregor, External Communications Chair Mark Pickett, and Internal Communications Chair Jason Akemann – Patch asked Benes if the caucus leadership believed they didn’t have to respect the public votes required by their bylaws. However, the president of the group said he couldn’t respond to that or other questions on Friday.

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