Anonymous letters snipe Woodstock residents supporting McHenry County Democrats

Partisan diatribes concern McHenry County leadership about divisive politics

An anonymous letter berated Woodstock resident Sarah Parisi for displaying Democratic political signs on her lawn.
An anonymous letter berated Woodstock resident Sarah Parisi for displaying Democratic political signs on her lawn.

Sarah Parisi checked the mail Wednesday in her neighborhood just east of the Woodstock Square and discovered a mysterious letter addressed to “The Occupants.”

Inside, the 41-year-old mother found a one-page note typed in capital letters:

“Those of us that are informed and highly educated are truly amazed that those of you that are uninformed and poorly educated would want to advertise you (sic) stupidity so blatantly with signage.”

On her lawn, Parisi has planted signs supporting Democrats running in state and local races: Carlos Acosta (McHenry County Board), Mary Mahady (32nd Senate District) and Lauren Underwood (14th Congressional District).

Parisi – who would later learn a neighbor across the street with Democratic signage on her lawn received a similar letter written with even stronger language – continued to read.

“What you dunces do well is lie, cry, whine, resist and delay,” the sender wrote. “Advertising you (low) intelligence quotients on your lawns show how brain dead so many of you lazy, weak, introverts are.”

The note ended with a cursive signature: “The Phantom.”

The anonymous attack letter was disturbing, Parisi said.

“What’s the purpose?” Parisi said. “It hasn’t changed my mind and it won’t change our actions. I guess it was meant to intimidate us, or maybe the person who wrote it just needed to vent their rage and hate. I find it sad and pretty pathetic.”

Parisi called the Woodstock police. An officer did not deem the letter a threat, but made a photocopy of the letter in case there are future incidents.

Across the street, the Rev. Lou Ness got a letter signed by “The Wizard.”

The sender called the 70-year-old Democrat a “socialist” and included racial slurs aimed at African Americans and the LGBTQ community.

“People will tell me Woodstock is such a friendly, welcoming town, and it is, except when it isn’t,” said Ness, an Episcopal deacon, community advocate and lesbian who has been in an out relationship for three decades. Ness also is the mother of McHenry County Board District 2 candidate Suzanne Ness. A sign supporting her daughter is on her lawn. “What we’re seeing in the Republican Party is permission to be uncivilized and hateful.”

Local leaders are worried the letters represent a growing partisan divide in the age of President Donald Trump.

“It truly worries me that we may be reaching a point of no return in this country when it comes to mutual political incivility,” McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks said. “Abraham Lincoln famously observed what happens to a house when it’s divided against itself. Both sides need to slam on the brakes when it comes to all this toxic political rhetoric before it’s too late.”

A part of the chairman was not surprised, he said.

“Just this year, the McHenry County Republican Party elected an extremist who was president of a racist vigilante group as its chairwoman, and backed a County Board candidate who belonged to a right-wing terrorist group that beat students and tried to bomb a church,” Franks said.

McHenry County Republican Party Chairman Diane Evertsen could not be reached for comment Friday.

Democratic Party of McHenry County Chairman Kristina Zahorik characterized the letters as extreme partisan rhetoric: “This is hate.”

• Northwest Herald reporter Drew Zimmerman contributed to this report.

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