This April, Oak Parkers will go to the polls to elect representatives who will run our village’s elementary and high schools, police departments, fire departments, parks and libraries. They have great responsibility. Their decisions impact our finances, parking, safety, and the education of our children — pretty much our daily lives. Their influence is arguably greater than the state or federal governments. These elected have nothing to do with Syria, but a lot with getting carjacked on Austin.
So today you are fortunate to get election insights from a man who ran in a crowded field of 10 candidates in the 1987 election for District 97 — and won. My dear friend, the late Don Delia, warned me not to do it, but I had this notion that “I needed to give back to the community.” Alas, I got tired of telling my sons I couldn’t help them with their homework because I had to listen to the citizenry argue about weed spraying policy at Holmes School. Kill me. I did not run for re-election. I was not very good at my job.
So here’s my tainted advice if you are included in the small minority who plan to vote this year. I will, and you should. Vote for normal, affable, collegial citizens who are really committed to public service. Don’t vote for the angry, messianic or arrogant. Avoid the single-issue, parking, traffic, close-the-educational-gap, lower-taxes candidates. Everybody favors those things, but they have been problems for years, and will continue to be for many more.
A good representative will have to be a patient and tolerant listener. Process is in the village’s DNA — even if it is redundant, cumulative and so boring. He or she will need to have a high tolerance for the vapid and fatuous.
We are fortunate that over the years we have had, for the most part, a lot of smart people who have been willing to spend 20-plus hours a week for four or more years of their lives representing us. We voters for the most part have done a good job with just a few clunkers like me.
To be honest, it’s pretty easy to just keep this civic car on the road and out of the ditch. Compared to our state and federal government, we have lived in a Periclean Golden Age, albeit with more traffic. Just avoid rising crime and/or dropping test scores. The rest is noise.
If you are going to vote, please do so wisely.
Don’t blow it for the rest of us.