Tuesday, February 2, 2010

True Chicago Guest Blogger: Eric Runyan

[Guest author’s thoughts] Friday night, after the creator of this informative blog and I helped get our kids to bed for the night, we took the invitation to attend a local “political rally” (can’t think of a better term). From what I could tell this event was put on by our alderman for all the candidates that represent or could represent the people of his ward. I must pause here for a second and say “the people from his ward” were greatly outnumbered by the politico types, the candidates and their right hand men and women.

Because we have kids, which we care more about than this gathering, we arrived late
(8:00 for a 6:30 start time). But we were right on time. As we walked up to the door, we spot Cynthia Soto (someone had to point her out to us) walking out, she currently represents our district in the Illinois house. Perfect, this is the person we wanted to see. We had some questions to ask. Immediately we started talking to her about the issues we have been trying to contact her about for the better part of her term with no real response or action. To make a long story short, she seemed to have little care towards what we were talking about and said we have to understand things are busy, that she is in the middle of a “contested” race in the primary so everything she is doing is focused on winning this campaign. Everything? Just a question I wish I would have asked, “Do you take vacation days when you are not working on matters that affect the constituents of the 4th district?” This was sad to hear.

I opened the door and who is it that I see, the governor of our great state Pat Quinn. (I seem to have just read our great state is accumulating the greatest financial deficit in its history and isn’t shrinking. And focusing energy on campaigning to get re-elected is the best we can do at this time? Another guest blog. )

I never thought I would be a part of something like this. I came to realize I think this was a political machine party. I don’t really know what that means, but it seemed to have a certain look/feel to it…how we were included on the invite list is a mystery to me.

Now to the real meat of why I was asked to contribute to this blog. As we were watching the candidates take the stage and give their stump speeches about why they are the best person for the job, I was thinking to myself ‘what is this that am I at?’ No one said anything that mattered. Buzz words and slogans flew everywhere. Nothing about what you believe or what you care about or what you want to do if elected. Just yelling to convince the people who are already on your side you are the best vote. Did I mention yet, I am not sure how we were invited or why they thought we were the right people for this gathering?

Don’t get me wrong…I love the democracy in which I live and take part in. I know I have it wonderful compared to many other parts of the world where this letter/blog would put me under scrutiny just for thinking/writing it. Our system is manned by and for people that can express how they feel… the beauty of our system, right? A question that swirled in my head for the better part of the night was what forum do candidates have to express where they stand and it not be about yelling and getting you to think they are the best because of some 25 second catch phrase you give to me and the rest of the non-listening audience.

I probably wasn’t at the right event for this to take place, but plenty of candidates were willing to hand me their political flyer and remind me what number to punch to take a look at the people/organizations who endorsed them. In the same short time, you could have just talked to me. I know time is short and there are many more important people than I, but 1-2 minutes engaging in a conversation would go a long way. I am not asking for an emotional connection but something more than the words you throw around that I feel like you’re not even sure that you mean.

This was never clearer than with a candidate running for a sub circuit judge. As we were walking out, she found it important enough to approach us and make sure we saw her face and knew what number to punch (when we voted). When we gave our home address and asked if we could even vote for her, she replied she didn’t think so. We then seemed to be less of a priority. She then proceeded to turn around when someone else needed her attention. Not an “excuse me” or “could you wait a minute” or anything like it. We waited for a few seconds and when it was apparent she wasn’t coming back to us, we walked out the door. Needless to say, I threw her literature in the trash.

I need to end with one positive from the whole night. As we were about to leave, I saw a candidate for one of the sub circuit judges, Steven Fruth. He appeared to be getting ready to leave but I asked him, “In one minute tell me why you should be the judge and what will you do to serve the people that elect you?” He graciously explained who he was as a person and the things he felt were important to him (why do we elect judges?). I then went on to ask him about the most current ruling of the Supreme Court in regards to campaign contributions. He answered honestly giving us the reasons in which he rooted his opinion. He had time for us. I liked that.

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