Columnist Jim Slusher: Candidates who care are encouraging, common
I was stricken this election season by a contrast that I haven't thought a lot about, even though it's not uncommon during campaign season, especially in local elections.
Indeed, one of our great frustrations is the difficulty we have reaching some candidates and securing their participation in our efforts to tell voters about them and their campaigns. As we've expressed in columns and editorials in the past, this can be significantly improved if candidates are required to include an email address with their filing documents, but even when we're able to track down email addresses for less-accessible candidates, many drag their feet in responding to questionnaires and interview requests, often requiring multiple contacts to get cooperation, if we ever get it.
We're encouraged that HB3965, sponsored by state Rep. Anna Moeller of Elgin, which seeks to require all candidates in Illinois elections to submit an email address with their nominating petitions, is gaining a lot of support among suburban representatives.
The questionnaires and interviews we do with candidates are important because they are among very few opportunities voters have to learn about and compare the backgrounds, qualifications and objectives of would-be community and school leaders. Beyond that, we also feel guilty if we can't reach all candidates, concerned that it will appear, or in fact be, unfair to provide information for some candidates but not others. Even so, there are always a few candidates who either can't be reached or simply ignore our efforts.
But these, it's important to emphasize, comprise a tiny minority. Among hundreds of candidates we follow, eventually only a handful do not participate at all. And what I've found particularly noticeable this year has been the number who actively seek us out if we haven't reached them yet. Not only that, it's been interesting to observe how enthusiastically and how thoroughly some candidates express their goals on questionnaires. In such details, you can tell a lot about how committed a candidate is to the job they're seeking.
It is common, and unfortunate, to question the motives and dedication of would-be office holders. My observation from four decades of this work is that most candidates, especially the more local the position, are sincere and committed to serving their communities. The frustrations of holdouts are annoying, but the energy and enthusiasm of this majority reinforce that encouraging view.
If you share such a view about certain candidates and want to share it, here's a reminder that time is running out to submit letters to the editor about the election. We publish as many letters as we can, striving especially to ensure that diverse points of view are included and elections from various towns are represented. We'll be expanding our letters space next week to meet this goal, but we will not publish election-related letters after Friday, March 31.
Considering the crush of letters we're already receiving, if you haven't submitted your thoughts to email@example.com by this weekend, there is a greater chance we may not be able to accommodate you.