McHenry Mayor Wayne Jett has issued an apology after sending a mass email campaigning for a City Council candidate from his city account.
Incumbent Andrew Glab will face challenger Jim Walsh for the 2nd Ward seat on the McHenry City Council in the April 4 consolidated election. Jett has been vocally supportive of Walsh.
The email was sent Tuesday with the subject line “Ward #2 Election,” and the sender was “City of McHenry: firstname.lastname@example.org via auth.ccsend.com.”
“Andy Glab has served as alderman for 21 years, and as I appreciate his service for so many years, we’re in need of change on this council,” the email read. “Sending this email is to seek your help and support in the upcoming April 4 election for alderman in Ward 2. I know everyone hates politics, but if we want to continue moving forward, I need someone who brings fresh ideas, energy and trust to our team.”
Jett then listed ways residents can help the Walsh campaign, which included sharing a post on Facebook and putting up yard signs. Jett said people who want yard signs in support of Walsh can email him at email@example.com.
Elected officials cannot legally use municipal resources to campaign.
McHenry’s code of ethics states, “No officer or employee shall intentionally use any property or resources of the city in connection with any prohibited political activity.”
Prohibited political activities include “soliciting votes on behalf of a candidate for elective office” or “helping in an effort to get voters to the polls” and “preparing for, organizing or participating in any political meeting, political rally, political demonstration or other political event.”
Jett said the mistake stemmed from use of Constant Contact, an email marketing tool. He said he has multiple email addresses consolidated on his Constant Contact account and didn’t realize the campaign email had been sent from his city email address.
“I didn’t click the right button,” he said. “It’s unfortunate.”
Jett said he specifically listed his work email account in the body of the email because he didn’t want to use the city account for campaigning.
An ethics commission would have to review the matter if anyone had filed a complaint with the city. The board ultimately could impose a fine if commissioners found the complaint justified under the city’s code of ethics.
Jett sent out an email later in the day Tuesday with the subject line “My apologies.”
“Until I received a few emails and calls regarding this e-blast, I wasn’t aware that it showed that email address, and for that reason, I apologize for my actions,” he said in the follow-up email. “I also want to state that I personally pay for all communication outlets, including Constant Contact and social media.”
He said Wednesday that he stands by his support of Walsh, however.
“For me, I just want to do what’s right in terms of who is the right candidate for the city,” Jett said. “I need someone I can trust. I want someone to do the best job in moving the city forward. I only have one or two terms to get things done, and that is where we are at.”
Glab frequently questions and votes against matters that come before the City Council. He said Wednesday that the email situation doesn’t surprise him, but that it also won’t faze him.
“I think, if nothing else, Wayne Jett is waking people up to what is going on,” Glab said. “We will see a much larger turnout in this election. I am watching what is going on, but they aren’t going to push buttons for me to panic.”
Glab, who defeated Walsh by a single vote in the 2015 April election, has represented the 2nd Ward since 1997. He said he doesn’t plan to file a formal complaint.
Walsh said he appreciates the support he is receiving.
“Wayne Jett has been a good guidance and helps support me, but unfortunately, I can’t control what people do,” Walsh said. “It’s appreciated that he owned up to the mistake. The support I am getting from Wayne and many people in McHenry has been tremendous.”