There’s some uncertainty about the future of the Riverside Community Caucus, and only time will tell what that future will be.
But, I can tell you how it worked when I joined the Caucus back in the 1980s, when the Caucus’ motto “the office seeks the man.”
The Caucus at that time was composed of residents representing all local organizations and community affiliations. Organizations would receive a letter from the Caucus, asking for a representative.
That’s how I ended up as a member of the Caucus. I represented the Riverside Junior Woman’s Club.
From its membership, the Caucus formed a nominating committee who interviewed prospective candidates and brought their names back to the full Caucus membership for selection of a slate.
Following the selection of a slate, a general meeting was held for the entire village chaired by a community member, who was not necessarily a Caucus member. At that meeting, other people might be nominated and supplant a Caucus nominee on the slate.
After the slate was confirmed, the slate typically formed a party, following election rules. The party would dissolve following the election, but the Caucus would remain.
While I was part of the Caucus, I asked for a copy of the bylaws, only to find out there were none. So, we formed a committee to create guidelines for the Caucus. Among the members were Harold Smith, John Lewe and myself. There were a few others whose names escape me. The guidelines were very workable.
They weren’t so restrictive, and allowed at that time for someone to serve more than two terms if that person was someone whose qualities and abilities were still needed on the board. That’s how Ed Meksto ended up serving three terms.
The document also contained suggestions on term limits and staggering the elections so as not to have a large turnover of the board at one time for the sake of continuity.
The Caucus was not secretive as many thought, and not just a “bunch of old men,” as my membership and others would attest to. The names of members were printed in the newspaper.
John Lewe had a large map of the village at his house. He used push pins to indicate where trustees lived and where Caucus members lived. He believed that all parts of the village should be represented, people of all political and religious beliefs were given consideration.
Did everything always go smoothly? Of course not, and Kay Snyder’s successful campaign as a write-in for trustee showed that the Caucus wasn’t always right.
In that case, the office sought the woman.