The recent decision by the Riverside Community Alliance to forgo slating candidates for the 2011 village elections is an interesting, but hardly surprising development.

As a member of the Riverside Community Caucus, and as the chair of the Caucus nominating committee, I am familiar with the difficulties in finding qualified individuals who are willing to give freely of their time and energy to serve as a village trustee during these difficult times.

While the RCA should not be criticized for sitting this election out, it is instructive to note that during the last campaign for village trustee in Riverside, the RCA and their supporters consistently (and it must be admitted, effectively) held up the Riverside Community Caucus as a symbol of all that was wrong with local government.

With cries of ending “one-party” rule and suggestions that the Caucus somehow stymied the electoral process, the RCA made the Caucus a focal point of their successful campaign.

Fast-forward to the current year, however, and a different, and more accurate picture emerges. Despite the difficult economic issues that face our community, despite the disheartening rancor on the village board and despite the fact that we are a small community with a correspondingly limited pool of candidates with the time and inclination to serve, the Riverside Community Caucus has selected and endorsed a slate of qualified, intelligent and capable candidates for village board.

To my mind, the slate of Ben Sells, Jean Sussman and Joe Ballerine exemplify what the Caucus process is all about – a group of independent, public-minded citizens who are willing to step up when their community calls.

Consider the situation if the Caucus had ceased to function (as seemed to be one of the fondest wishes of some of the RCA’s most loquacious supporters). Who would serve? Who would be willing to take on the challenge? As the RCA has found out, finding qualified (and willing) candidates for office is not an easy task.

Once again, though, the Riverside Community Caucus has managed to do so. While I’m clearly not an unbiased observer, it seems to me that the Riverside Community Caucus – far from exerting a baleful influence on village affairs – has once again proven itself as the best means of selecting clear-thinking, independent-minded candidates to the village board.

John Mathews