Prove the experts wrong and go vote

Daily Herald Editorial Board
Updated 4/4/2011 3:02 PM

Last November, about half of the registered voters in the suburbs turned out for the high-profile election of a U.S. senator, congressmen and women and for governor and other statewide and county offices.

Last week, about 55 million votes were cast in the weekly "election" for the next American Idol.


But tomorrow, when residents can have the most say on how much they pay in property taxes and how that tax money should be spent, county officials in the area say we'll be lucky to hit 20 percent of the registered voters.

That's a shame. Because there are interesting races throughout the suburbs -- longtime mayors are being challenged, school board members are debating what should be taught, for how much and by whom, and tax-increase questions exist for everything from whether to eliminate a position in one town to a forest preserve's plans to buy land and keep it as open space.

As Kerry Lester and Mike Riopell reported Sunday, three of the area's longest-serving mayors are facing strong competition in Naperville, Schaumburg and Elgin. Other mayors also are on the hot seat in Wood Dale, Oak Brook, Wheaton, Prospect Heights and Carol Stream.

The clarion call from challengers is that change is needed in these tough times. Incumbents stress experience. What do you think? History is on the incumbents' side.

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"The power of incumbency is still great on the local level," Northern Illinois University political science Professor Matt Streb told Lester and Riopell. "The name recognition you get for a mayoral candidate on the local level is quite strong."

And that may be what residents want. But it's not that clear when so few actually vote.

The same is true of school board races. Issues of teacher tenure, merit pay and union contracts get people riled up. Just look at what's happening across the country. But too few take advantage of their opportunity to make a mark on their own school board by voting for people who share their opinion. Remember, the school district takes the biggest chunk of your property tax dollars by far.

Truly important issues that can affect your everyday lives are at stake Tuesday. We urge you to take some time today, if you haven't already, to get to know who the candidates are and what they stand for.

On you can find questionnaires from each of the candidates, stories that have been written about the races to date and the endorsements we made in every contested municipal and school board race. Don't forget that there also are park board and library board races in many communities. Tomorrow, you can take with you to the polls our printed list of endorsed candidates to help you make your decision. The polls are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. It only takes a few moments for you to exercise this important right. Please do.