Editorial: Candidates' joint letter is reminder of what's at stake in local elections
An unusual letter to the editor came to our attention this week. Unusual because it is indeed an election-related letter, yet it supported no one candidate, slate of candidates or platform.
"Yes, Oakton Community College District 535 residents, there are 13 candidates running for three vacancies on a seven-person board of trustees ... we were as surprised as you when one after another kept arriving to submit petitions at 8 a.m. on Dec. 10. And now, here is a message we want to share with our constituents:
"We are 13 nonpartisan, talented, experienced, generous candidates who see the value of Oakton, see the challenges of Oakton, and are committed to serving our entire community through this opportunity. We each promise to do our very best to represent our community throughout our six-year tenure. Each of us has strengths and perspective and it is your job to discern which three candidates match your interests."
The letter suggests readers visit cookcountyclerk.com to see the candidate statements, and urges them to check out the League of Women Voters of Evanston Voter's Guide for more nonpartisan information.
"Become invested in the future of this outstanding educational community resource by becoming an informed member of the electorate," the letter goes on.
"Who knows? Maybe the motivation that each of us felt, is actually the wave of the future. You may have to become accustomed to exercising your democratic processes."
It is signed by 10 of the 13 candidates, calling themselves the OCC13. No one has refused to sign, and the organizers' best guess about the other three candidates is that they may not have checked their email to see the original.
As we voters all prepare to go to the polls on Tuesday -- excepting those among us who have already cast ballots at an early-voting site -- it is worth reflecting on the hundreds upon hundreds of "nonpartisan, talented, experienced, generous" candidates who are putting themselves forward as suburban public servants.
This is a local election, for municipal, school, library, park and fire districts boards. Most of the races and the issues aren't sexy. But these are people who will have a bigger impact on your day-to-day life and tax bill than any governor, senator or president.
It is thrilling to see 13 candidates for Oakton, or eight candidates for Wood Dale's city council, or six running for the Cook Memorial Library board in Vernon Hills or hundreds of others across the suburbs in campaigns for school board, municipal office and village, parks or library board.
And what do the winners get? A lot of late nights poring over policy proposals and budgets, taking phone calls from constituents and calendars full of mandatory events.
They are owed our respect and our attention. The least we as voters can do is listen, learn and ultimately, choose.