When our family moved to North Riverside in 1979, the headlines in the local paper were all about the screaming and anger among those elected to office in our town.
The residents, our neighbors, were kind and helped us with our son with severe disabilities, but the government was not functional. Anger was the norm.
For the last 20 years, I have coordinated the Mayor’s Committee of Neighborhood Services. I am just a resident, never having been asked to join the VIP Party. Also our block captains have never been subjected to political pressure. We just help people day by day so they know they are not alone.
And, to the credit of the VIPs, the party budgeted for the needs of residents in trouble and supported us, even in hard economic times. I also know that they helped us behind the scenes with financial aid, clothes and advice for residents in need.
I started seeing what the people and their officials could do working together. And I felt my hope in politics renewed. I saw businesses come to our town. Young families moved here and relatives came back to town. There was a mutual respect among all.
Now, again, I feel that our town is being divided. Because of the extended economic downturn and the need to raise rates, it seems that those in power are completely blamed. The fact that this is a town of the people and that politics is supposed to serve the people seems to be forgotten. And it seems like fighting is something to be encouraged. And this is sad.
I have always told the truth, so I decided to share the questions I will ask myself before I vote.
Has the candidate been involved in helping people for a long period of time and not just in her/his profession or at village board meeting?
Has the candidate lived in town a long time, so truly understands the needs, the financial concerns and really the people (maybe I will check what the neighbor of the candidate thinks about the person)?
Now that economic concerns are getting better and Costco will come in, is the candidate someone who is intelligent, professional and who is able to continue to build mutual respectful relationships with the old and the new businesses, especially since there are many in town? Does the candidate listen to the people, rather than have her/his own agenda?
Does this election really matter? Yes, because our town should continue to be a model of cooperation and caring throughout the world as it has been known through our Neighborhood Services program.