State Representative Karen Yarbrough recently suggested that Commissioner Rory Hoskins would have trouble getting votes out Forest Park if he ran for the 7th District house seat. She seemed to be implying that, because District 209 School Board President Emanuel “Chris” Welch is better known, he would have an advantage.

Being better known only helps if people like you.

If a head-to-head election between Welch and Hoskins were held today, Hoskins would beat Welch in the Proviso part of the 7th District without stepping foot outside of Forest Park.

In a head-to-head election in March 2006, Yarbrough beat Welch by a large margin in Proviso Township. Welch made his case with numerous direct mailers, yard signs, plenty of campaign workers, and a bottomless pit of money. He ran his best campaign, but the voters rejected him.

In 2009, Welch was named on many of the ballots in the race for the D209 school board. Did he rehabilitate himself during that time? No. There were advantages he had in the school board race that he won’t have in a race for state rep.

In the 2009 school board race, citizens voted for up to four candidates. It’s harder to go negative against one candidate when every other contender is trying to get in the top four.

Welch regularly outspends opponents and has the advantage of large numbers of government workers and D209 employees who “volunteer” on his campaign.

In a head-to-head race against Hoskins, Welch could get 40 percent of the vote. That is, if Hoskins didn’t raise serious money and didn’t remind voters of all the reasons why Welch was an unfit, unethical, and, generally, an unlikeable candidate when he ran for the seat in 2006. Even if Hoskins campaigned poorly, he could likely beat Welch.

Welch has to hope that multiple candidates run against him, and that none go negative against him.

This doesn’t seem likely.

Welch has been at the helm of what has arguably been the worst school district in Illinois for nearly a decade. And when factoring in the relatively high per-pupil spending, it makes the poor test scores even more exasperating. Districts that serve much poorer communities than Proviso get better test scores.

He’s also been embroiled in over a dozen lawsuits as both defendant and plaintiff, and taxpayers have footed plenty of legal bills.

I suspect Welch feels the same way Rod Blagojevich did when he whined about being stuck as governor. Welch probably feels like he’s stuck with a dead-end job and thinks his political career is going nowhere.

It’s true. But that’s the way democracy is supposed to work for politicians who are unfit, unethical and unlikeable. “The fault, Dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.” If Welch wants to rehabilitate himself politically, rather than scheming with Yarbrough, he should deliver results for the students and taxpayers at D209.

Carl Nyberg
Former Forest Parker