Question: What do Illinois governors do after they leave office?
Answer: They go to jail.
That’s being cynical, of course, but it’s a little hard to admire politicians when Jesse Jackson Jr. and Aaron Schock have taken the place of governors on media scandal pages.
So what is motivating Tony Calderone and Chris Harris to run for mayor; Mark Hosty, Tom Mannix, Rachel Entler, Joe Byrnes and Dan Novak for commissioner; and Ned Wagner and Claudia Medina for D209 board?
Wondering about that, I asked myself, “Is it money?” So I called Sally Cody, executive secretary and deputy village clerk at village hall, asking what the mayor and commissioners make each year. She replied that the commissioners get $10,000 a year and that the mayor gets $30,000 plus an additional $10,000 for being Liquor Commissioner.
I asked the commissioners how many hours a week they worked as commissioners. The average was 15-20. I did the math and figured out that they are making about $9.60/hour with no benefits, which is just a tinsy bit better than what they’d make at Walmart. I emailed Cody saying, “They’re not getting rich,” to which she responded, “No sir, they are not.”
And D209 board members get $0/hour.
OK, so it’s not money. Maybe they like the limelight, you know respected and admired by adoring residents. So I asked candidates what campaigning feels like.
Answers: “I get a knot in my stomach two months before the election” and “tedious and aggravating” and “can’t wait till it’s over.”
What’s more, there are the shenanigans. Connie Brown told me that someone has been removing her Proviso Together yard signs. When I asked Ned Wagner about that, he said, “That’s what we’re up against.”
Chris Harris and Dan Novak were portrayed in an unauthorized flyer as supporting Matthews, Raines-Welch and Harrell for the D209 school board. When I asked Harris if he sent out the flyer, he replied, “Absolutely not. It’s a slimy campaign tactic. That flier was sent from a third party that neither Dan Novak nor myself are aware of. Dirty politics.”
If I were running, I’d be flattered and honored by the number of people who have been willing to put up yard signs for their favored candidates, but engaging with that kind of, dare I say “evil,” would take the air out of my balloon.
I used to say, “If you want to get disillusioned with the church, become a pastor.” I wonder if all the candidates campaigning in our community with “small-town charm” are feeling the same way about politics right now.
OK, so if it’s not money and it’s not adoration, what else? Lust for power? The need to be in control? Ambition? First, the ability to discern another person’s motivation for doing anything is above my pay grade. And second, I’ve seen a lot of PBS documentaries on former U.S. presidents, and I’ve heard a lot of stories about high-ranking church officials, and my conclusion is that ambition and enjoying control and power are part of what motivates everyone who seeks positions of leadership.
We’re not voting for saints here. We shouldn’t take gaffes about dog poop or pants slung below the butt very seriously. Those are distractions, and to the candidates who aren’t the subject of lampooning yet, just wait. You’re human and your time will come. There are always a few people sitting on the sidelines who love to criticize.
So why are they running? What I’m left with is that they are normal human beings like me with character assets and deficits who are living in a pretty good town in a pretty good nation and on the whole want the best for our community.
That doesn’t answer the question of whom you should vote for but it might be an antidote for cynicism.