It’s beginning to look like there will not be a contest for the three village trustee seats in the April 2011 election. The 50-year hegemony of the Oak Park chapter of the Baath Party discourages competition. That’s not necessarily the worst thing in the world. Village Manager Association candidates are usually hardworking and pretty smart, even if they take themselves a bit seriously and are kind of thin-skinned. But democracy requires voter choice.
Anyone challenging the VMA will almost certainly lose, but so what? There is a long and honorable tradition of quixotic losing campaigns. England has its Raving Looney Party. And can we forget the hilarious antics of Pat Paulsen, Stephen Colbert, Jerry Rubin and that lady witch who ran for the Senate in Delaware?
So I am encouraging at least one of you good citizens to step up to the stage and run for office. Now since this is the America of rapacious capitalism, like the subprime mortgage business, I want to “incentivize” you. Here’s the deal: I will donate $250 to the first non-VMA candidate to file for village trustee for the April 2011 election. I don’t care what you spend the money on. Wink. Wink. Also, I will put your hand-lettered sign or poster in my yard. I will get you 10 signatures on your nominating petition. Sweet deal, huh?
I don’t care what your beliefs are — pro development, historic preservation, banning mercury in vaccines, banning vaccines, pants on animals. Whatever. I don’t care if you campaign or not. Now it would be better if you went to the forums because I’ll ask you some easy questions that you can hit out of the park that will make you look smart even if you’re stupid. And I’ve got some friends in low places who will feed you stuff that might make the VMA slate look bad, or at least uncomfortable. It’ll be fun.
There is a tiny catch. I get unlimited access to your campaign. I’ll be James Boswell to your Samuel Johnson. When you make a snarky comment about Ray Johnson’s haircut, I’ll report it. When I go to your house and see your 10 cats roaming around, I’ll report it. Hey, $250 is a lot of money!
In the interest of full transparency (they call me Mr. Cellophane), I have a personal interest in all of this. Through the long, dark winter I need grist for my column and blog. So if you don’t want to read pontifications on post-racial and gender Oak Park, or sentimental reflections on my granddaughter Lily, one of you must begin your electoral journey. Remember, not that long ago Sarah Palin was the mayor of some Podunk town in Alaska. And now she has her own reality TV show. It could happen to you.
John Hubbuch, an Indiana native who moved to Oak Park in 1976, is a retired lawyer. Hubbuch served on the District 97 school board and coached youth sports. He is the father of three and grandfather of one.