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Update: Controversial campaign calls prompt Simonian to tell Geneva man to back off

Volunteers cite abortion, ‘critical race theories’ while backing Simonian in mayoral race

GENEVA – Some Geneva voters have recently received calls from volunteers urging them to vote for Tom Simonian for mayor in the April 6 consolidated election instead of incumbent Mayor Kevin Burns.

But instead of sticking to issues more suitable to a local election, the volunteer caller brings up abortion and “critical race theories” as reasons not to vote for Burns.

“Hello, my name is Laura, and I’m a friend of a fellow Geneva, Illinois resident. I am calling on behalf of Tom Simonian who is running for mayor of Geneva,” a woman states in a recording of the call.

She speaks about Simonian’s budgetary goals if he is elected – then segues that he would “unite parents against critical race theory” – an apparent reference to new “Culturally Responsive Teaching and Learning Standards” approved for training teachers.

Laura speaks of other reasons to support Simonian, but segues again into national issues, claiming, “the current mayor supports abortion up to the moment of birth and this may not reflect your values or the values of Geneva as a whole.”

Bobby Piton, a Republican Committeeman in Geneva Pct. 19, used social media to seek volunteers to make calls supporting Simonian – specifically including abortion and cultural education issues.

Simonian said he did not know about the calls or what the volunteers Piton recruited were saying.

“I have not authorized this,” Simonian said.

He said he called Piton Wednesday night to stop the calls.

“‘I need you to stop that or take my name out of it.’ He said all right, I’ll stop,” Simonian said.

For his part, Piton said he did not need Simonian’s permission to campaign on his behalf.

“I don’t work for Tom. I’m a private citizen,” Piton said. “I only met Tom one time in person. And so I don’t work for him. I am a citizen of Geneva.”

When asked why he didn’t talk to Simonian first before seeking volunteers to make calls, Piton said, he supported former President Donald Trump in November and didn’t need Trump’s permission to do so.

“I did not need Tom’s permission,” Piton said.

Burns said, “We pledged to remain positive during this campaign and, despite being provoked at virtually every turn, we will remain positive and focused on the relevant issues of our community.”

Piton had also posted his anti-Burns comments and promotion for volunteers on Simonian’s personal Facebook page. Piton’s posts were put up from March 23 and the latest one was posted Wednesday morning, according to the dates on Simonian’s Facebook page.

Simonian said he had not been on his Facebook page since his birthday March 5 and did not know Piton was posting his messages there.

“I will take them down and block him,” Simonian said of Piton.