By John Hubbuch
It must be tough to be a Village resident contemplating running for Village Trustee this spring. The Village Manager Association has decided on a slate, and VMA hardly ever loses. Their electoral success rivals that of Sadaam's Baathist Party and Stalin's Communist Party. Don't get me wrong I encourage as many candidates as possible to file if for no other reason than to give continuing vitality to the useful fiction that Oak Park is a vibrant democracy. Sadly, we are merely an oligarchy which permits lots of complaining.
The more interesting question is: Why does VMA always win? I think there a number of reasons.
First, VMA is a reliable brand. Like Coca Cola or McDonald's, you know what you're getting. It provides solid predictible governance. The leaves get picked up. The snow gets removed. Crime is under control given our proximity to higher crime neighborhoods. Taxes are high, but worth it to live in a place with good schools and restaurants 20 minutes from downtown Chicago.
Second, we are a very liberal community. I understand that the Republicans had 17 people at their victory party, and eleven were there for the free food and drink. VMA is always on the liberal side of issues. There's no potentially divisive wedge issues in Oak Park. Most voters like teachers, greens and gays. They don't like nukes, guns or hedge funds.
Third, VMA is like a club or fraternity. It has an ongoing existence. People are active in the organization for years. It recruits new members. It raises money. It has meetings. No other organization is even close. Organized opposition is typically a crazy quilt of people who are mad about something. They lose an election and interest. I do not blame them. There are lots of things a person can do. Losing over and over to VMA should be down on most people's "bucket list."
Fourth, the two biggest complaints about Oak Park are probably taxes and crime, and there is a built in steam valve for those angry about those two issues-- you can sell your house and move, and until 2008, you could make money on the sale. The point is that those who might mount serious campaigns against VMA either give up or move. As a result there is never an organized opposition with a long-term platform, historical memory or continuing organization.
So like Nate Silver who predicted every state in the Presidential election, I would like to predict that every VMA slated candidate will win election this spring.