Naperville voters –
Joe and his wife have each written separate responses to the Sun article from March 7, 2019.
Almost 24 years ago, my wife Kay and I had an argument that turned violent. Kay hit me, I hit her, hurting her badly enough that I had to call 911. It was a terrible experience for which I feel endless remorse.
Over Kay’s objections, DuPage County insisted on prosecuting. I pled guilty to misdemeanor domestic assault.
Let me be clear: I never did anything like that in my life before, and I have never done anything like that in the ensuing 24 years. Through much hard work, Kay and I saved our marriage.
Recently some of my campaign supporters and news media received, from an unknown source, police records about the long-ago incident. Of course this is an effort to keep me from being elected to the Naperville City Council, dragging my wife into the fray. Shame on them.
The Naperville Sun has written an article about this, even though Kay implored them to not include details about her injury. An editor told her today that, “the voters have a right to know.”
From Kay (updated 3.10.19) –
A recent report in the Naperville Sun / Tribune has torn open a 24-year-old emotional scar for me and for my husband. I regard this as a private matter between us, but there are a few things that the media reports chose to leave out.
For reasons that are not known, someone has been sending encrypted anonymous emails to people in Naperville about Joe. This person also emailed the information to local media. The person used an email platform, www.protonmail.com, based in Switzerland, which is designed to completely hides the sender’s identity. According to online reports, this is the server used by the Cambridge Analytica folks in their attempt to skew our national election. The Protonmail website brags: “As a Swiss company, ProtonMail cannot be forced to hand over data in cases of US or EU civil litigation.”
One question that I keep coming back to is: Who is this person and what is their motivation? Even though it was the anonymous email that alerted the Sun editors to this information, they said in a phone call with me that the secretive, smear campaign is of no interest to them.
I think it should be important. Until recently, local elections were fairly civilized. People were rivals, but they were also cordial. This was before social media became a feeding ground for trolls, and before our current socio-political climate made it amusing to be horrible to people. Napervillians may want to ask themselves how vindictive, angry social media users and other digital demons are changing our town and whether it is outside influencers or our own neighbors who are fueling this change.
While there are numerous local candidates and council folk with secrets, it seems ours is now an open book. The anonymous emailer sent a link to public records about Joe’s decades-old misdemeanor conviction. We knew this information might resurface someday, even decades later, but for Joe, the call to service outweighed an outdated episode that in no way reflects Joe’s character. He has done many good things for Naperville and wanted to help with some of the key land use issues that are front and center now.
Regarding the charges: The Sun accessed public documents which I have not seen. The published medical information does not sound accurate to me, though it is true I lost my sight in one eye. The use of this wording in print and online without my permission is a violation of my medical privacy rights.
As Joe’s friend for 46 years, I can tell you that what happened in the space of about three seconds on one night 24 years ago in no way reflects on his character, his behavior before or since, or on our relationship, which now is healthy and loving. I do not think that people in chronically abusive relationships should stay together, but that was and is not our circumstance.
After that rocky period, we sought several years of marriage counseling and worked very hard on our relationship.
Because we worked through those down times, we feel we have something to share with others. I know we could not have survived this without the blessing of Amazing Grace. Because of that divine gift we wanted to give something back. We have worked with and led the Engaged Couples Retreat at St. Thomas the Apostle Church for the past several years.
Second chances. When is our society going to truly believe in redemption and second chances, in forgiveness and reconciliation? I fear it will not be soon. It’s so much fun to hate, mock, blame and paint complex individuals and actions with one single brush stroke. Nuances and shades of gray get lost in our digital age. It’s easier to understand a crazy world if we just call everyone we disagree with a jerk or write them off as a bad person.
No saints. If you expect every person in elected office to be a saint, you will be sadly disappointed. Instead of saints, communities need leaders who are passionate about public service, have great ideas and the skill to make them a reality. Those who have lived through crises, as Joe has, may have a depth of experience that makes them compassionate, thoughtful and forgiving.
Joe is not just someone who made a mistake, he has been committed to making Naperville a better place for all families.
On a personal level, he works every day to be the best spouse he can be. He is extremely loyal and is my best friend. I am blessed to have him in my life and while I would never have wanted to walk this path, I am glad we have gotten to an excellent place in our relationship.
The newspaper articles and the social media that churned up so many bottom feeders have victimized me again, and it has made me angry.
At the same time, our friends have stepped up in a remarkable way. With their support, we will survive this, too.