It seems like every six months, we are going to the polling place to vote for someone or something; reeling from another barrage of platitudes, promises, and assurances; tucking ourselves into bed on election night with the security that once again democracy works and the world, or at least our community, is better off.

A day after the election we go about vilifying all office holders calling them thieves, scoundrels, or worse, politicians. And the process repeats itself again.

So on April 5, a shamefully low amount of Forest Parkers ages 18 and over will trudge to their respective polling locations and cast ballots for people and offices that they have never heard about and probably don’t care about.

The local scene won’t present much drama. There is a scrum for two Park District Commissioner spots, but the local Board of Education race will play out with four people running for four openings.

There are township offices up for grabs, as well as Proviso School Board seats. These races have, for the most part, seen local political parties formed that then run a slate of candidates. You can pick and choose from the slates, but obviously the political masters of these slates would prefer a straight party vote.

These township races are being run with political intrigue as a backdrop. Depending on whom you talk to you might hear that a slate backed by Cook County Commissioner Tony Peraica (Luke Skywalker) is up against a slate backed by Melrose Park Mayor Ron Serpico (Darth Vader). 

Others will tell you it’s Serpico’s (Skywalker) guys versus Peraica’s (Vader) people. It all depends on who you hang with, or who you talk to.

There is a third, rapidly growing point of view that it’s Peraica (Vader) against Serpico (Vader). Let’s hope someone tells George Lucas.

Although I really don’t care who is running with whom, I would like to know where they stand on particular issues. I suppose I could pick up the phone and ask each of them, but that’s time consuming and how would I know I’m actually hearing from the candidate rather than an intelligent stand-in?

The best way is to get them one on one, or five on five, Family Fued-like in one place at one time. If that has happened this election cycle, I missed the memo as to when and where.

We voters deserve better than yard signs and slick pieces of mail that generally go straight to the recycle bin.  But we don’t demand it in a unified voice loud enough to get anyone’s respect.

So if after Election Day, we complain about the lack of serious and competent candidates to choose from, we have no one to blame but ourselves.

Still voters need to somehow choose the riff from the raff.

For the eternally maligned Proviso School Board, I sincerely believe that you could pick names at random from the phone book and get people to do as good a job (Skywalker) or bad (Vader) as the new school board.

But I’m always forgetting where I placed my reading glasses, and without them any fine print is just a mirage. The fact is at this time I don’t know who I am going to vote for at Proviso.

However, I do know who I WON’T waste my vote on. They are, in no particular
order, Emanuel ” Chris ” Welch, Daniel Adams, Shirley Madlock, Michael Carlson, Imoni Baxter, Theresa Kelly, and Gary Marine. Are these people on Skywalkers’ or Vaders’ slate? I don’t know and I
don’t care.

They are the current Proviso school board members as listed on the School Board website. I don’t even know if they are all running, but the ones that are will not receive my vote.

Now I could say something like ‘I’m tired of low test scores’ or ‘they’re only giving lip service to safety issues’ or ‘why has it taken so long to build the Math & Science Academy.’ All true to many of us, but my reason is less noble, more superficial, and probably idiotic. For the twelfth straight year, the Proviso East boy’s basketball team has failed to make it to Peoria for the state championship.

The boy’s team is one of the most storied programs in the history of state athletics. There is enough talent at East to demand that the program reach Peoria at least once every four years.

Three years ago I had the displeasure of attending the super sectional game at the United Center against New Trier from Winnetka. Even with superstars Dee and Shannon Brown, East was easily defeated by a team being groomed to take over daddy’s company and exploit the masses. New Trier! It wasn’t like we were competing in some sailboat competition.

This years’ arch-enemy, St. Joseph appeared to be the spoilers. But East pulled a minor upset and looked “golden” to once again travel to fabled Peoria for a chance at the championship. Only Brother Rice stood in the Pirates’ way. Once again bitten by the bad luck snake, East lost by
one point. Sigh. As Bill Murray said in
the movie Stripes, “and then, depression
set in.”

How can I possibly vote for a group of people to educate our children if they can’t ensure something as simple as a quadrennial trip to Peoria for the boys’ Bball team? I can’t and I won’t.  Lacking a real, meaningful way to choose real, meaningful candidates, I am forced to choose by my alternative ways.

With the election less than two weeks away I have some work to do to find suitable candidates to vote for. So I guess it’s off to Wal-Mart to get glasses so I can read my phone book.