Will County Gazette

Will County Gazette

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

GOP candidates denied entry to Democrat-led public forum


By Glenn Minnis | Jan 30, 2020


Illinois state Senate candidate Thomas McCullagh (R-Shorewood) is confident that his platform message of lowering taxes, giving Illinoisans back their voice and keeping more people in the state stands to resonate will voters of any party.

That's partly why he felt safe walking into a recent public forum being held at the Bolingbrook Public Library by 49th District political rival Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood). But McCullagh and Will County Executive candidate Nick Ficarello (R-Braidwood) say they were rudely – and perhaps illegally – turned away.

“When I first showed up, I was told it might not be a friendly crowd for me, but I was okay with that because I know this is a democracy and I’ve always thought an educated voter is a smart voter and I wanted to make sure everyone had a chance to listen to both sides,” McCullagh told the Will County Gazette. “But then Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant walked over and things changed real quickly, even though I told her I couldn’t be denied entry into a public building.”

Illinois state Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood)

Indeed, in Illinois, government meetings of public bodies are typically open to the public.

McCullagh is running to replace the retiring Bertino-Tarrant, who is running against Ficarello for Will County Executive.

“For them, it all came down to politics,” McCullagh said. “I would love to see Democrats at our next event ready to really discuss the issues. We try to be as inclusive as we can be for our events. I can see myself still trying to go to a couple of their meetings. Even though I know now what to expect, it’s all about reaching as many voters as you possibly can.”

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