There is never a dull moment in Chicago politics, but this particular election cycle is sort of peculiar. On March 15th, people in the Land of Lincoln will be voting for state and county offices. Normally, this election would get lukewarm media attention, but, Chicago polls do not disappoint.
The race taking center stage in this year's theatrical masterpiece is that of the Illinois State's Attorney. Incumbent Anita Alvarez, is seeking re-election but is in the fight for her political life. States Attorney Anita Alvarez is trying to recover from a collage of scrutiny regarding the Laquan McDonald police shooting. On October 20, 2014, 17-year-old Laquan McDonald was shot 16 times by Chicago Police. Over a year later, the police dashboard camera recording was released to the public showing the chain of events that lead up to and including the police shooting. Hours after the video was released, Police Officer Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder. Alvarez was raised in the Pilsen neighborhood and a mother of four children. She spent her legal career in the Cook County state's attorney's office and became State's Attorney in 2008.
Alvarez's closest challenger is Kim Foxx. Foxx is a Chicago native born and raised in the Cabrini Green housing projects on the near north side. She is married, with two daughters and also has extensive experience in the state's attorney office as a child advocate and former supervisor. Prior to running for state's attorney, Foxx was Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle's Chief of Staff. Kim Foxx is also endorsed by a broad coalition of elected officials and civic groups.
And coming in at a distant third, is Donna More. More is an Evanston native, mother of one child and brings to the table experience as a prosecutor for both Cook County and the United States. Currently, More works in private practice.
In unusual turn of events, there's a hotly contested state representative race, also on this bill. Constituents of Illinois' 5th district are tasked with either re-electing Ken Dunkin or Attorney Juliana Stratton. Representative Dunkin seems to have fallen out of the good graces of the Democratic Party for being a no-show when it was time to vote or voting against the party on a few key bills. When Dunkin was asked in several media interviews, to justify his vote against the Democratic party's typical alliances, he positioned himself as an "independent" and not beholden to any political party. Dunkin has been heard saying several times in interviews, "People over Politics." Juliana Stratton, an attorney, a mother of three daughters and a resident of the Bronzeville neighborhood, may be considered an "outsider" by some, but she has a history in public service. According to her television ads, she positions herself as a reformer in the criminal justice system.
But really, are the voters motivated to get out to the polls or are they fatigued of the mudslinging coming from every and all directions? There's a long-standing bone of contention between voters and elected officials asking one another; "What have you done for me lately?"
And to be perfectly honest, it's a valid question for both to ask.
Voters are thinking what have you done for me in order for you to earn my vote and the candidates ponder what have you done for me so I'll be motivated to help you with some type of service or assistance? (Although it is still their job; whether the constituent voted for them or not).
There are no scientific surveys or sophisticated polling algorithms behind this theory, so, just have a cup of your favorite beverage and enjoy the irony in the discussion.
Voter turnout in election cycles are typically abysmal and sadly, this has become the norm. Unless some star-studded quality politician is running for office, folks just don't seem to see the value of voting.
It puzzles many how some people do not find value in voting for the person who will potentially represent them and the interest of their tax money, in city legislature and beyond. At the end of the election cycle, someone will be declared the winner, so why not vote and have a say so in who that may be?
Earlier, it was mentioned that regardless of voter turnout or even votes casts for their opponent, it is still the fiduciary duty of the winner, to serve all constituents. How are our politicians evaluated on their effectiveness in office? Well, every election cycle pretty much answers that question--even if there are only a few who bother to show up at the polls.
And so it begins, the workers for the politician receive the crème de la crème, while some of the others are left scrapping at the bottom of the barrels.
How can this vicious cycle can be stopped?
Is there really a solution to this dilemma?
We always hear the people should come out and vote and perform their civic duty. Is that what incumbents really want? Statistics have shown that typically low voter turnout usually favor incumbents.
So is all this get out to vote rhetoric, on behalf of the incumbent, all for show; or, is it only important when the "powers that be" are wishing to run a no name candidate, in an effort to get their new flavor of the month into office?
After all, they do call it politics for a reason.
I reckon the moral to the story is, if you are not part of the process, you are more than likely part of the problem. If the outcomes are not to your liking, you have no right to have beef if you did not at least be heard at the polls. One should be very careful and deliberate in whom they choose to represent them in the legislative process.