A New Direction
reflections on the 2005 Elections
comments: 8 addendums: 0
Out with the old, in with the new. DeKalb County has embarked on a new path as a result of the April 5th General Elections. The majority of less than 30% of the registered voters in the county has determined the course. The 70% who did not vote endorsed this direction by their lack of participation.
Anti-apathy advocates, like me, are disappointed. In DeKalb County there were 56,495 registered votes for the April 5th elections. But 40,591 of the voters stayed home. Some would argue that non-participating voters are satisfied with the status quo thus do not feel the need to vote. They better get ready for change.
Pro-growth advocates, like me, can only whine about low voter turn-out. We can point to the Waterman anti-growth referendum in the November elections that was defeated by a 65%-35% margin with high voter turnout and contrast those results to the fact that a similar anti-growth referendum passed in Clinton Township in this low voter turn-out election by a similar margin. But it's only whining. The majority of those who care has spoken.
Frank Van Buer is the new mayor of DeKalb. He defeated Greg Sparrow by more than 1100 votes. The lead was substantial. The contest was not easy. His campaign workers relentlessly worked to get their supporters to the polls. It was a well organized campaign, headed by Don Floyd, who has become a dominant force in DeKalb County politics.
The DeKalb County Democrats are dictating the course of politics in this county. Senator Dick Durbin-D visited DeKalb to announce his support for Frank Van Buer. His PAC organization donated $1,000 to the Van Buer campaign. The event received glowing coverage in the Daily Chronicle.
The Republicans are in a full scale tail spin. U.S. Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert, visited DeKalb to say nice things about Greg Sparrow but stopped short of endorsing him. The Chronicle's coverage of that event had a starkly different tone than that afforded to Durbin. The Chronicle editorial board condemned the "political spin" tactics of Hastert's visit while making no mention of Durbin's visit in their editorial. Advantage: Democrats.
The bulk of Sparrow's campaign workers, including his brother Gene Sparrow, spent the majority of their efforts trying to get Jesse Perez elected over incumbent 6th ward alderman, Dave Baker. It was a bizarre strategy designed to get student votes at the expense of a good alderman. Perez would not have been able to take office even if he had won due to residency requirements. Sparrow would not have won even if Perez would have won the 6th ward unanimously.
The last minute smear tactics employed against Baker made his race close. Republican DeKalb County Board member, Eric Johnson, sent a letter to 6th ward residents condemning Baker, a Republican precinct committee member, through the mailing service company owned by Democrats Arthur Larry Lundgren and Steve Faivre. There was no statement informing recipients of who paid for the printing and mailing of the letter.
Baker won by a mere 17 votes but meanwhile Van Buer won throughout the rest of the city. Baker could have, and maybe should have, swung his support to Van Buer -- in return for likewise support. It was offered, but to his credit, Baker steadfastly maintained his independence, which is genuine.
DeKalb has forever outgrown "Greg the Keg" politics. Chalk up one more positive for all those new rooftops some people love to loathe. Never again can a politician win a citywide election by simply winning the student wards.
But in fairness, Greg Sparrow deserves gratitude from DeKalb residents for his more than twenty years of selfless service to the community. Despite his critics he was a good mayor, a good man and the proof is in this pudding: DeKalb is a great city with a tax base many communities envy.
The page has turned and a new chapter has begun with Frank Van Buer at the helm. He was given a mandate by the voters and by the make-up of the city council. Kris Povlsen, Donna Gorski, Pat Conboy, and Steve Kapitan already gives Van Buer the consensus he pledged to build. May he move with lightning speed in fulfilling his campaign promises of bringing DeKalb residents property tax relief while getting DeKalb schools proper funding.
Sycamore got a full time mayor. Ken Mundy narrowly defeated incumbent John Swedberg in a three way race that included Earl Gable. Mundy served as the city's treasurer for 24 years. He announced his intentions to run for mayor almost a year before the elections and he just may have personally talked and shook hands with every resident in Sycamore. There were not many differences in the stances between Swedberg and Mundy and that appears to have worked in Mundy's favor.
Mundy knows numbers and that will prove valuable but it is his ability to communicate that will be tested. His leadership abilities will determine whether or not he will be the fourth consecutive one term mayor Sycamore has had since the late Mayor Red Johnson.
Sycamore's CARE group won two seats on the city council. Grace Adee (3rd ward) and Darren Knuth (4th ward) have actively opposed residential development in Sycamore. Land prices outside of but annexable to Sycamore will undergo a cooling off period. Lot prices inside the city will likely increase at an even higher rate of inflation than has been experienced.
Balancing Sycamore's tax base, which is currently at more than 70% residential to 30% other, will prove to be a great challenge for Ken Mundy's administration. The experts of CARE say that rooftops are not necessary to attract commercial and industrial development. The site selectors who decide where such development occurs say that a balanced and proper number of rooftops are required in order for them to recommend a site selection. Sycamore is lacking both in number of rooftops to attract commercial development and affordable rooftops to attract industrial development -- according to the latter group of experts.
For people to vote Mundy on the next big Tuesday, Sycamore's new mayor will need to display leadership, indeed.
editor's note: Watch for more of my rants and raves on Election 2005, health permitting. They will be added as addendums to this editorial.
Zip Code: 60178
Let me say it again! GO CARE!!! We are going to shut you and your builder buddies down and run you out of town! Pack up your trucks and leave. We won't miss you.
Zip Code: 60115
While we often disagree, I wish you the best of health and hope whatever is troubling you medically is handled Get well.
Apathy always puzzles me and I too share your disappointment with those who decide not to vote.
>From my perspective this election was clean, though the information you mention regarding the Baker-Perez race and the smear tactics apparently by a Republican and two democrats (who were also Sparrow supporters) is both disheartening and new to me. Could you explain what happened in more detail and is there any way of preventing it from occurring in the future?
editor's response: I disagree but thanks for the well wishes. Congratulations on your efforts and your success.
Greg Sparrow, himself, ran a very clean campaign as did Frank Van Buer. I think the Perez-Baker thing was motivated more from college buddy circles than anything else but it clearly got out of hand and shattered the boundaries of good government.
I think redistricting is in order as long as there are safeguards against partisanship games. There should be eight councilmen, seven wards with equalized population and one student at-large alderman to represent the student constituency. The mayor would then only be called upon to cast a tie-breaking vote.
Zip Code: 60178
You are dead on about voter apathy. I can't believe so many people didn't vote.
Zip Code: 60115
Welcome to politics, Mac. You can't be that naive. The key to any mayoral race is always in the contested aldermanic races. So what if one republican dished another. Who cares? I see that some democrats were helping Sparrow. Its just politics.
editor's response: I just wonder if these type of political games, that we allow to be played, is the reason 70% of registered voters said, "why bother?" Why must we accept this? I guess I'd rather remain naive.
Zip Code: 60556
I too share your concern about voter apathy in our local elections. As a life long citizen of Waterman I'm very concerned about Waterman's future. Unlike the members of REAL I remember a strong business community and our own school system, we lost both. We are also losing one of the finest citizens the Village has today. Trustee Mark Todd decided not to run for re-election. Mark brought professionalism and honesty to his position. He also listened to all points of view, and he never got personal. This community owes this man a large debt of gratitude.
editor's response: Waterman lost a statesman when Todd chose not to run for re-election. My experience with him was brief but I fully concur with your evaluation of him. I also share your concerns with the future.
Zip Code: 60115
As long as you're whining about us non-voters let me explain why I didn't vote. There wasn't a choice in DeKalb for mayor. Sparrow spent his whole term trying to keep his job and not standing up for anything. He poured money at the school district. They get the lion's share of our taxes and got the lion's share of the TIF funds that should have been used to refurbish the older parts of town. He raised sales taxes. [Frank Van Buer] had to be talked into running by the people who would accept any warm body for mayor as long as he wasn't Greg Sparrow. At the debates FVB first criticized Sparrow for not doing anything to help existing businesses and then rebutted him with applause when Sparrow talked about what he claimed to have done for existing businesses. You call this a choice? If Bessie wanted to be mayor she should have run. We've put up with their bickering for too long. Sorry, I won't vote for either if it's no choice.
Zip Code: 60115
I was just wondering if there were any pools on when Mark Biernacki resigns (voluntarily or not)? I'd like to get in.
Zip Code: 60115
IT IS ABSOLUTELY AMAZING HOW STUPID THE RADICALS IN CARE AND REAL ARE. THERE ARE COMMUNITIES PAYING PEOPLE TO COME IN AND BUILD. THEY ARE BEGGING BUILDERS TO SAVE THEIR COMMUNITIES. SHABBONA AND MALTA ARE TWO COMMUNITIES WHO LOST THEIR SCHOOL DISTRICTS AND THEIR DOWNTOWNS ARE TURNING TO GHOST TOWNS. MILLIONS OF DOLLARS HAVE LEFT THIS COMMUNITY TO OTHER COMMUNITIES WHO HAVE STORES. BLAME THE BUILDING COMMUNITY INSTEAD OF THE SHORT SIGHTED SCHOOL BOARDS WHO HAVE LET TEACHERS UNIONS DICTATE POLICIES. 80% OF SCHOOLS MONIES GOING TO PAYCHECKS LEAVING 20% FOR THE KIDS. SURELY THE BUILDERS FAULT. SHUT THE BUILDERS DOWN AND WE WILL ALL BE PAYING DEARLY IN TAXES WHEN NO NEW REVENUE IS COMING IN THE PAY THE YEARLY, BANK ON IT INCREASES TO THE HIGHLY PAID UNION EMPLOYEES IN THIS HIGHLY UNION EMPLOYED COMMUNITY. MAYBE THESE GROUPS LOOKING TO SLOW GROWTH DOWN SHOULD OFFER THE BUILDERS MONEY SIMILAR TO WHAT THE FARMERS HAVE RECEIVED IN THEIR PIK PROGRAM. I AM SURE THE BUILDERS WILL GLADLY STOP BUILDING IF PAID TO STOP. IT IS POOR POLICIES AND UNFRIENDLY ATTITUDES THAT IS KILLING THE HOMEGROWN LOCAL BUILDER WHO BUILT MODERATELY OVER THE YEARS THUS OPENING THE DOORS TO THE BIG MONEY BACKED, HUGE VOLUME BUILD DEVELOPERS. YOUR FIRST COMPLAINER WITH CARE IS PROBABLY A GREEDY AND SELFISH IDIOT WHO MOVED HERE IN THE LAST FEW YEARS AND DOESN'T WANT ANYONE ELSE TO HAVE WHAT HE (SHE) HAS FOUND. THOSE NO GROWTH PEOPLE WHO HAVE BEEN ELECTED ARE NOW PRIVILEGED TO THE FACTS. IT WILL BE INTERESTING HOW FAST THEIR VOTING WILL CHANGE FACED WITH MAKING REAL DECISIONS. TIME WILL TELL, THE REAL QUESTION IS? DO OUR CHILDREN HAVE THAT KIND OF TIME AND DO THE HOMEOWNERS HAVE THE CASH RESERVE FOR THE NEW IMPROVED HIGHER REAL ESTATE TAXES THAT ARE EMINENT. REMEMBER PARENTS, PRIVATE SCHOOLS DO EXIST FOR THE EDUCATION THAT YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO GIVE THRU OUR PUBLIC SCHOOLS. GOOD LUCK WATERMAN, SYCAMORE, AND DEKALB. THIS IS WHAT APATHY AT THE POLLS HAS GIVEN YOU.