Participate, communicate to make Northbrook a better community
An open letter and two "asks" of All the People of Northbrook:
The recent elections of April 6, 2021, lead me to believe that all of us, including those on team #NorthbrookCaucus, team #United4Northbrook, and team skeptical or undecided, would benefit from a refresher on what the Northbrook Caucus is, and what it is not, on behalf of the Village of Northbrook.
We all need to be aware that the Caucus is intended to be for the people of the Village -- all the people. This specifically includes D's and R's, liberals and conservatives, left-handed and right-handed, and any other group that is present in Northbrook. As per the Caucus website: "The Caucus is a nonpartisan, volunteer organization made up of Northbrook residents that for more than 65 years has recruited, interviewed, and endorsed candidates for election to municipal office."
The Caucus is not the vaulted "star chamber" or secret society that uses a dark room (except when they meet in the basement stage in Greenbriar, and that light level is unintentional) to anoint special members with power over the community. The Caucus is run by and for the people of the community, typically those who are most interested in the community. The Caucus is intended as a forum on behalf of the larger community, helping to discern the issues and concerns and helping vet potential community servant-leaders.
Of particular interest -- because the Caucus selects candidates for political office, the Village of Northbrook CANNOT be involved in any part of the process, including posting that the Caucus is looking for members or candidates.
In 2020, the Caucus announced they were looking for members on social media and to all those whose emails they had from the last Town Meeting.
Volunteers indicate their interest of the caucus each submitted a note of interest volunteered and were selected for service by first by location and then by lottery and by location. These volunteers took the time with the appropriate persons on the school boards, village staff, the Village President, and other stakeholders to learn of their concerns and potential issues in the community.
They then screened potential candidates and discussed the candidates individually and as part of the potential boards. They discussed and voted in committee, presented their selections to the Committee of the Whole for confirmation or for the larger body to overturn, and then presented those results to an open Town Hall Meeting for a final vote.
As a candidate, I was present at each of these steps and can attest to the process -- I found it to be open, candid, and laser-focused on the local issues that face the community.
The ads, emails, and social media posts put out by "United4Northbrook" intentionally diminished the confidence of the community in the Caucus. I note that the "United4Northbrook" candidates never availed themselves of any portion of the process that they vilified and condemned. While the Caucus prevailed in the elections, public trust was eroded by this campaign and our sense of Unity for Northbrook was attacked.
The point is not to agree with each other all of the time, the point is to help each other be a better community. The community may not agree on everything, but I believe that Northbrook needs a forum to discuss the issues as a community, and the Caucus has served that function in an honorable fashion. This sowing of distrust has hurt. I have two "asks" today to help in the healing process:
1. Participate: Volunteer to work on one of the many Village Commissions or Committees, learn how the local governments work, volunteer for the next version of the Caucus (coming at you in the fall of late 2022). Talk to each other and listen to each other. Be a part of the process and help to truly unify Northbrook, and then participate in the vote.
2. Communicate: one of the largest issues brought up was communication and transparency -- While the Board members are required to listen to public comment at meetings, this is not the only way we get feedback. PLEASE reach out with your ideas and issues to board members -- our phone numbers and emails are listed on the webpages and we live/shop/dine in the community. I will not know what is on your mind unless you share it (a lesson nailed home after 30+ years of marriage).
Trustee, Village of Northbrook