This is no time for democracy fatigue
By Jim Slusher
If it's possible to contract something like democracy fatigue, this is surely the year to get it. Not only are our natural immunities compromised by eight months of pandemic fatigue, but we're still reeling in the after-effects of one of the most contentious national elections in memory. So, it may not come as welcome news to see campaigns already forming for a new round of elections, set to take place in some towns as early as Feb. 23, just about 13 weeks from now.
But I encourage you to take a deep breath and prepare to enter a new round of appeals and promises, and assure you the Daily Herald is here to help.
There is an important, and possibly refreshing, difference this time, too. The candidates coming to you will be friends and neighbors, seeking support for positions that will directly affect the appeal of our towns, the strength of local business, the quality of education for our children and more.
At least nine suburban towns -- Aurora, Campton Hills, Downers Grove, Elgin, Hoffman Estates, Naperville, North Aurora, Schaumburg and Wheaton -- could have primaries on Feb. 23 to select candidates for the April 6 consolidated elections. The April 6 elections will fill positions on municipal and school boards as well as answer any local referendum questions.
Even in the best of times, local elections do not usually produce the level of drama and attention that a presidential race generates, and coming on the heels of an emotionally exhausting national campaign, you may have even more temptation than usual to rest on the sidelines.
Sure, national elections are peopled with sometimes larger-than-life figures and heated with fiery passions on sensational issues. But local elections are peopled with, well, people -- people we know or may see at the local supermarket or hardware store; people who, for the most part, answer their own phones and, in all cases, we can engage with in person at public meetings in our own towns; people with whom we are entrusting the management of the property taxes we pay either directly as homeowners or indirectly through the monthly rent.
Our coverage of these elections began this week as candidates started filing in those communities that can have primaries. Primaries are intended to narrow large fields, so they will be generated only if certain numbers of candidates file by next Monday. A second filing period will take place from Dec. 14 to Dec. 21 to complete the April 6 ballots in all our towns. So, many of us do get a couple of weeks to catch our democratic breath, but it is a brief respite indeed. Christmas and New Year's Day follow right on the heels of the closing of filing and then we'll jump right into the campaigns themselves.
Daily Herald writers and editors are already making plans for communicating with candidates and passing their messages along to you. We know that in the thick of the Thanksgiving-to-New Year's holiday season during a pandemic year, local politics likely is not at the top of your mind. But before you know it, the candidates will be clamoring for your attention and votes, and we aim to be ready to help you sort through their messages.
Fatigue may be the word of the year in 2020, but we'll do all we can to make sure it won't extend to local democracy.