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Traynere blazes unexpected path as Bolingbrook mayoral candidate

Alex Ortiz | 3/16/2017, 6 a.m.
There’s a story Traynere tells about the first time she engaged in political activism. She was in the fourth grade ...

There’s a story Jackie Traynere tells about the first time she engaged in political activism. She was in the fourth grade at what was then Northview elementary, living in Bolingbrook, and her class wrote a letter to the governor asking him to put a stoplight at the intersection of Route 53 and Briarcliff Road.

Most students were able to walk across a catwalk via stairs but any students like those in wheelchairs, crossing was difficult. The class’ letter spurred the state to install the stoplight.

“That was really something,” Traynere said. “That was probably the first political activity I ever did.”

It wouldn’t be the last time she got involved in politics. But the journey to mayoral candidate has been long. Originally from the southwest side of Chicago, Traynere moved with her family to Bolingbrook in 1970 when she was 9-years-old. She describes her childhood as normal considering her parents had undiagnosed mental health problems with a mother who was manic depressive. Traynere’s struggles with her family motivated her to leave at the age of 16, dropping out of her junior year of high school to marry her 19-year-old boyfriend.

She earned her G.E.D. and started taking college classes all while raising two children. She would eventually divorce and move back in with her family. By that time her father had developed dementia and her sister, also divorced, had moved in as well. All told there were three adults and two children all living in the two-bedroom house.

Traynere feels that those early struggles prepared her to take care of herself and face challenges head on.

In 1995, Traynere took a job in downtown Chicago with the American Federation of Government Employees and where she was first convinced to run for a spot on the Will County Board in 2006. At that time she also was accepted into the Illinois Women’s Institute for Leadership program which prepares women to serve in public office.

“What I’ve really learned is that county government doesn’t have a huge effect on the people here in Bolingbrook,” Traynere said. “It’s all municipal.”

In the fall of 2016, during the lead-up to the presidential election Traynere was among many Bolingbrook residents who were surprised by the news that Mayor Claar hosted Donald Trump at a private fundraiser at the Bolingbrook Golf Club. Especially since the village had become increasingly diverse with growing Latino and Muslim populations, two groups criticized by the then presidential candidate. About 1,500 people signed a petition asking Claar to cancel the event citing Trump’s misogyny, Islamaphobia and xenophobia as reasons they thought he did not reflect their values.

“Everybody loves having a blended community and we love having a blended community and that man does not represent us,” Traynere said.

Claar declined their request to cancel the event which set off an organized protest which drew widespread media attention and convinced Traynere that it was time to challenge Claar.

She formed a new political party to take on the 30-year incumbent on April 4. The slate includes Jaime Olson for village clerk as well as trustee candidates Bob Jaskiewicz, Mary Helen Reyna, and Terri Ransom.