Kadner: Not sitting out Tuesday’s primary election
Phil Kadner firstname.lastname@example.org | (708) 633-6787 March 16, 2012 9:58PM
Anthony R. Martin for state representative, 35th District. | Supplied photo
Updated: April 19, 2012 8:30AM
This is usually the time of year when I urge readers to vote on Tuesday.
I’m struggling with those words this time.
My father drilled me on the importance of voting from a very early age.
He had grown up during the Great Depression, fought in World War II and loved this country with a passion. A citizen’s most important responsibility, he always said, was to vote on Election Day.
He wouldn’t be easy to pigeon-hole politically. He voted for both Democrat Franklin Roosevelt and Republican Richard Nixon (in 1960).
He owned a store for several years and later was a U.S. Postal Service employee. He didn’t believe in welfare, but thought Social Security, the Works Progress Administration and Medicaid were great things.
I can trace a lot of my conflicting political opinions to him, and when my mother’s influence gets tossed into the mix, well, hardly any issue seems clear-cut or simple.
My problem with the elections in Illinois this year is that it seems to me Southland voters don’t have much of a choice.
The Democrats have increased the reach of Chicago politicians far into the Southland and, in the case of congressional districts, into areas that used to be considered downstate. The districts have been gerrymandered to make them favorable to Democrats who have a home base in Chicago.
But that isn’t my only problem.
Even many incumbent legislators, people who live in the suburbs and supposedly represent the suburbs, haven’t done their jobs very well.
It seems to me that Southland residents, who pay some of the highest property taxes in the nation, could rightly claim they have no representation, no voice, in Springfield.
While Republicans may feel they have a great deal of choice when it comes to electing their presidential nominee in the fall, the Grand Old Party has virtually abandoned this area when it comes to state legislative races.
There may be a few good candidates out there, but without adequate funding or organizational support in November, they don’t stand much of a chance against the Democrats.
And then there’s this: No matter who gets elected, nothing seems to change in Springfield.
I mentioned all this to Anthony R. Martin, a Democrat running for state representative in the 35th District, which runs from Chicago’s 19th Ward southwest and includes a large portion of Orland Park. It’s one of those gerrymandered districts I mentioned.
Martin, 46, a Chicago fire lieutenant and secretary of the Chicago Firefighters Union pension fund, stopped by my office to make a pitch for his candidacy. I had never met Martin, a resident of Chicago’s Mount Greenwood community, before, and you can’t tell a whole lot about someone in a 90-minute interview.
But when I told him about my difficulty in even telling people to vote on Tuesday, I thought he said something interesting.
“They’ve got to vote because Tuesday is the election,” he said. “In November, it will be too late.”
He’s assuming, with some justification, that the 35th District is so overwhelmingly Democratic that a Republican couldn’t pull an upset in the fall.
Martin is one of three Democrats running in the district. The others are Andrew Byrne Hodorowicz and Francis Ann Hurley. Hurley is the hand-picked candidate of the 19th Ward Democratic Organization, where she has worked in the offices of former Ald. Ginger Rugai and current Ald. Matt O’Shea.
Martin estimates that 70 percent of the vote in the 35th District Democratic primary will come out of the 19th Ward.
I find it difficult to believe that anyone representing Chicago would also be able to represent the interests of the Southland as well. Martin argues that he can, but more important, believes that people should at least vote in the election.
Although he’s gotten the endorsements of fire and police unions, he’s still fighting an uphill battle against a powerful ward machine.
“You’re going to be the voice of the unions if elected,” I challenged.
“I’m going to be the voice of working people,” he replied.
Well, I’ve heard a lot of candidates make promises, and very few of them made good.
But as long as people have an opportunity to vote, they should make the most of it. Staying home is not a protest against corruption.
The political bosses of Chicago would like nothing more. They will always get the vote out for their candidates.
They want the independent voter, the person outraged by corruption, to stay home on Election Day.
That ought to be reason enough to vote on Tuesday.