By John Hubbuch
Although readers of my column and blog know that I supported District 97's referendum, last night's results were a surprise to me. I was on the Board in 1989 the last time an operating fund referendum had passed,but that referendum only passed after the failure of a referendum. I thought that history would repeat. I was wrong. So now I'm left to speculate how I could be so wrong.
First, I needed to remember that Republican victory in the 2010 elections, the rise of the Tea Party and Wisconsin's attempted abolition of unions received a lot of national attention ,but have very little to do with Oak Park. We voted overwhelmingly for Obama. We are very liberal. The election was local,not national.
Second, many voters could afford to pay a tax increase. I note that Willmette and Oak Park--both pretty affluent suburbs--were the only places where operating fund referenda passed.
Third, never underestimate the power of a motivated, dedicated cadre of people to achieve a goal. (See the Russian Revolution) I have no knowledge of the inner workings of the campaign, but I suspect that many District 97 parents worked together precinct by precinct to get out each and evey vote. Bloggers and editorial endorsement are not nearly as important as looking your neighbor in the eye and asking for his vote. In addition, this group of parents is very tech savy , and no doubt used that to great success.
I would be most interested to hear from the referendum insiders as to how they pulled off what I believe is a surprising and remarkable success.