Candidate for state representative criticized by challenger for campaign email


Daily file photo by Colin Boyle

Candance Chow speaks at an event. Chow came under fire after an email was sent by her campaign manager petitioning for help recruiting volunteers.

Ryan Wangman, City Editor

An Evanston/Skokie School District 65 school board member who is doubling as a candidate for 17th District state representative is under fire for an email her campaign manager sent to a work account attempting to recruit volunteers.

Candance Chow, who is running in a crowded Democratic primary for the open seat, is facing scrutiny from opponent Mary Rita Luecke after she discovered that Chow campaign manager Gabe Frankel sent an email petitioning for help recruiting volunteers to the work account of the executive assistant for District 65 superintendent Paul Goren. Luecke alleged in a Feb. 27 news release that the move violated district policy.

In a copy of the email obtained by The Daily, Frankel wrote the campaign had many opportunities for people to get involved, and said the greatest need was for people to knock on doors and make phone calls for Chow. Frankel also included links in the email to sign up for upcoming volunteer shifts and to become a member of the Democratic Party of Evanston to support Chow, as the email was sent in January before the group made their endorsements.

The executive assistant forwarded the email to at least three other people with District 65 email addresses, according to copies of the email chain obtained by The Daily.

Luecke said her biggest concern is that Chow suggested her campaign manager look for help finding volunteers from a person so closely related to her work as a school board official.

“To me this is problematic, because even if that person doesn’t have a a lot of authority, people who receive an email from her knowing that she is the executive assistant to the superintendent might feel pressured into doing something that they wouldn’t otherwise do,” Luecke said.

Luecke said that whatever Goren’s assistant would choose to do in her personal time is no problem, but that Chow’s campaign should not have reached out to the executive assistant in “her District 65 capacity.”

In response to the criticism, Chow said her campaign manager sending an email to the executive assistant’s work email was “an honest mistake.” She said the executive assistant had already volunteered to help the campaign, and that they communicated with her using the wrong email address.

“This is a grassroots campaign,” Chow said. “I have over 8,000 contacts that we’re reaching out to … so it’s challenging to not have a mistake like this happen, but it was a mistake and we have to make sure that we do our very best for it not to happen again.”

Chow said the timing of Luecke’s release, which was sent out over a month after the initial email and a few weeks before the primary, was “a little bit curious.” The candidate said there was no intentional solicitation of District 65 volunteers who had not already volunteered in their off hours.

Luecke is calling for an investigation into the issue, but did not specify from what organization.

Keerti Gopal contributed reporting.

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