Yolish claims she was ‘intimidated, threatened’ during petition process

A longtime Board of Education member has filed a police report claiming she was “intimidated and threatened” by two fellow Republicans during the days prior to submitting signatures for petitioning primary candidates in mid-August.

Kathy Yolish alleged that Jim Capra, Board of Aldermen member from the fourth ward who is seeking re-election, and Mark Widomski, a Planning and Zoning commissioner who is not yet up for re-election, called her and told her she was misrepresenting what the petition — which was for fourth ward Republican Bernie Simons — was to potential signees. The calls, she said, left her feeling intimidated and threatened.

Yolish said she filed a police report but asked neither person be contacted. Police confirmed that Yolish had filed such a report but planned no further action at this point, at Yolish’s request.

“I am not looking to get anyone in trouble, but this upset me,” said Yolish, who, as a longtime resident and RTC member, has been on friendly terms with both Capra and Widomski for years. “I did not really do anything.”

The Republican Town Committee, at its meeting last month, voted unanimously to place incumbents Capra and Noreen McGorty on the ballot, but in the days following that decision, some RTC members shifted from Capra to pushing for Simons. Yolish was collecting signatures for Simons, who ended up earning enough signatures to force a fourth ward primary.

“I just want to be left alone,” added Yolish. “People need to know that this kind of thing happens on both sides, but, in this situation, I felt really intimidated. It was also upsetting to me that no calls were made to the men collecting signatures just like me. It felt that I was targeted.”

Capra said he called Yolish after receiving calls from Republicans and Democrats about her possibly not conveying the proper information regarding the petition she was circulating.

“I thought our call was amicable, and I wish her well in her run for Board of Education,” said Capra.

Widomski said Yolish has been one of his close personal friends for more than 30 years, and he was simply informing her of what he had been told by others concerning her alleged actions.

“When I received information that a female matching Kathy’s description was canvassing in the Cayer Circle neighborhood and that the circulator gave the impression it was about the (Board of Education) and not the (Board of Aldermen), I gave her a call,” said Widomski. “When I spoke with Kathy to give her a heads up of the information so she did not run amok of the law, she admitted that she may have ‘confused’ one of the signees, and that she was heading back to the residence to clarify the petition.”

Widomski said as far as filing a formal report with the State Election Enforcement Commission, “that would not be up to me, but the person signing the petition. It would then be up to the SEEC if anything would be done, not me.”

Yolish said she had been collecting signatures the weekend of Aug. 10, just days before all petitions needed to be filed with the Republican registrar of voters. She said went to homes where she knew the owners, except one. She said at that home the owner asked her what the petition was for, at which point she said she told her it was for Simons.

Yolish said she started receiving calls from Widomski and Capra on Monday, Aug. 12. She finally answered Widomski’s call in the car with friend and fellow Board of Education member Dr. Darlisa Ritter. Yolish said she placed the call on speaker — and informed Widomski of this.

“(Widomski) told me he had heard I was misrepresenting what the petition was for … that I was saying to sign it would help get rid of (Board of Education Chair) Mark Holden, or something like that,” said Yolish. “He then said he was calling as a friend, but then he said if I did not stop, he would file a complaint with the (State Election Enforcement Commission) and would personally have me arrested, jailed and fined.”

Yolish said she felt she had done nothing wrong but said she went back to the one person she did not know personally who had signed the petition to explain, again, what the petition was for to dispel any confusion.

“She did not take her name off the petition. As a matter of fact, her husband signed, too, so I ended up with two signatures after this,” said Yolish.

Yolish said the next day she received numerous calls from Capra, during which she said he also accused her of misconduct. After she explained the situation, Yolish said Capra then asked her to not submit the signatures as a “personal favor.” In the case with Capra, Yolish said his constant calling of her home and continued allegations of misconduct simply represented harassment on his part.

Yolish said she was upset that Widomski asked her to stop collecting signatures and Capra asked that she not submit what signatures she had in hand.

“I met Kathy Yolish, a Lauretti loyalist, a few years ago and have worked with her and other members of the Board of Education on positive projects, for example, during this previous budget process, advocating and getting city funds to hire a much-needed full-time school psychologist,” said Capra. “A small but necessary moment in the alderman and Board of Education working together.”