Showing Up: A Sign of Respect

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.)

But three of the candidates didn’t bother to show up last night.

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.

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5 responses to “Showing Up: A Sign of Respect

  1. I was really surprised that they didn’t show, especially from a slate that has been rumored to be concerned with transparency.

    I came to the forum with an open mind, wanting to hear both sides of the story and only got one. Although it was enough—Any candidates unwilling to come defend their platform in front of the citizens they hope to represent, certainly won’t get my vote.

    • Me too, on both counts. I was surprised that NONE of the trio showed, and I had gone hoping to hear both sides of the story for myself. Especially since one of the “issues” is transparency.

  2. I cannot believe the apathy shown by the 3. It makes voting for the ‘Save our Library 5’ a no brainer. I did expect to hear of a tug and pull struggle to intensify in the upcoming weeks, not for one side to just sit back and expect the signs to do the work for them.

    • But the sad thing is, the signs MIGHT do the work for them, especially in a board election where a lot of voters just pick the names they’ve seen. I want to go to all the houses and businesses with the green signs and leave flyers, informing them that these candidates are offering the opposite of transparency.

  3. Pingback: Signs of Spring | The Adventures of Elginista

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