For the second year in a row, organizers of two Madison County, Ill., Labor
Day parades did not invite Republican candidates to participate, and once
again one of them is crying "not fair."
"To deny any individual or group entry into these parades on the basis of political affiliation is discrimination," said Amy Sholar of Alton, Republican candidate for Madison County state's attorney. "The fact that taxpayer-supported resources, such as the police and fire departments, are being used when such discriminatory practices are taking place is just wrong."
Capt. Scott Waldrup of the Alton Police Department said officers working at the parade will be on extra duty, and the department would bill the Greater Madison County Federation of Labor, which sponsors the event, for the costs.
Fire Chief Bernie Sebold said the Alton Fire Department would not have trucks in the parade. Firefighters who want to participate will walk the route on their own unpaid time, he said. The firefighters will represent Alton Fire Fighters Local 1255, not the department, he said.
Sholar asked that all Republican and Democratic candidates be allowed to participate in the Alton and Granite City parades marking Labor Day. An attorney, she said she has "considered filing for injunctive relief to address this discrimination and to ensure that all candidates supportive of unions can walk in the parade, rather than the few candidates favored by certain union leaders."
The first of the parades, which the Greater Madison County Federation of Labor holds every year, will be this Saturday in Upper Alton. The second parade is held on Labor Day in Granite City.
Federation President B. Dean Webb, of East Alton, said the labor organization will not allow Sholar to participate in the parade because she is not an endorsed candidate, not because she is a Republican.
"She is not an endorsed candidate. There were four Republicans endorsed in the Chicago area, and if they want to come down and march in the parade, I would be happy to let them in," Webb said. "There were Democrats that were not endorsed, who did not qualify."
The Madison County labor group did not endorse any Republican candidate, he confirmed.
Webb said Sholar applied for endorsement and he interviewed her about organized labor issues, but the federation chose incumbent State's Attorney Tom Gibbons, a Democrat.
Sholar said she walked in the parade two years ago with no problems before she was a candidate. Last year, when Sholar was refused a place in the parade, she held her own walk along the route of the parade on the sidewalks, with supporters holding pro-labor signs.
Webb said that march was "quite disrespectful, against our wishes."
"She says she is a friend of labor, but won't abide by our rules and tradition," Webb said.
Sholar said she plans to repeat her own sidewalk parade alongside the one in the street, and expects "a big group" of supporters to join her.
"We were well-received last year by the neighbors," she said. "We will walk in support of labor and pass out fliers. We will have signs saying, 'Sholar for Labor,' the same as Madison County Federation of Labor. We could have filed for a temporary restraining order, but we do not want to be
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