Elgin will hold municipal elections on April 5. Like the political nerd I am, I’ve spent part of my spring break going to candidate forums. You can read all the profiles you want, but there’s something about hearing candidates answer questions live, without hours to carefully choose written words, that shows their true character and intentions.
Last night’s forum was held at the Gail Borden Library, which is a phenomenal asset to our town. The forum was for mayoral and library board candidates.
Typically, it’s these smallest elections – for library boards, school boards, park districts, etc – that get overlooked. Even politically engaged citizens who do their homework on the marquee races (mayor and city council, in this case) often shrug and close their eyes when they get to that part of the ballot.
But they’re just as important as the higher profile positions. In this case, the library board manages taxpayer dollars and sets the direction of the library. Given how much I get out of the library, it’s a part of my tax bill I’m happy to pay – but I want to know that those dollars are being spent wisely. And one of the current board members – elected the last time around with the usual amount of voter indifference – has proved to be an obstacle to progress, demonstrating just how important it is to choose our board wisely.
Given this history, I really wanted to hear from the library candidates. Essentially, two “slates” have formed among the nine candidates running for five seats. I was curious to hear the differences between the slates, as politicians often try to cater towards voters by not taking any position that could be remotely controversial. (I believe all candidates last night agreed that they do indeed like books.)
One of the “slates,” consisting of Victor LaPorte, Richard Wallett and Penny Wegman, skipped the forum entirely. (They’re the trio on the green signs around town.)
While this made for a rather amicable forum, it wasn’t fair to voters, though it certainly made my decision easier.
By not bothering to show up at the only forum for library candidates, co-hosted by the library itself, Wegman, LaPorte and Wallett showed they don’t respect voters, the process or the library.
If elected, would they bother showing up at meetings? Would they bother listening to constituents?
Let’s not find out. But do show up at the polls.
Note: After this post inspired the comments below and a Facebook discussion, I wrote a follow-up post on the role of signs in an election.