Thursday, January 14, 2010

Casting my ballot

ORLAND PARK, Ill. – Call it the advantage of having an hour of time free in mid-day, but I made the trek Wednesday out to one of the early voting centers maintained by the Cook County clerk’s office in order to cast my ballot for the Feb. 2 primary elections.

I figure now if I get preoccupied with having to follow political-type activity on ElectionDay, I don’t have to worry about taking time out to wait in line to cast my own ballot.

AS ANYONE WHO has read my commentary in the past has figured out, I tend to lean Democrat. Sure enough, I wound up asking for a Democratic Party ballot for next month’s election.

Although I will confess to pausing for a few seconds when I was filling out the form to request a ballot to checking the box for the GOP, just because there is a part of me that would have liked to have given some support to the gubernatorial campaign of Kirk Dillard.

The Dillard I dealt with as a chief of staff to former Gov. Jim Edgar and as a state senator from DuPage County was one who took the issues seriously and was a person who tried to figure out what was good for all people – rather than imposing some ideological viewpoint on them. That likely is the reason the more conservative of Republicans have their hangups about him. Election Day voting booth technology has come a long way since 1944. Photograph provided by Library of Congress collection.

But in the end, there were so many more campaigns on the Democratic side of the equation that I felt the need to take that ballot. The idea of a symbolic Dillard vote against the conservatives seemed like an irresponsible reason to pick up a GOP ballot.

SO HOW DID I cast my votes? And why do I think anybody cares?

As far as the latter question is concerned, I don’t think anyone is going to be influenced to vote for someone just because I did. This is more about giving people who read these commentaries a sense of where my own ideological bearings are. From there, it is up to you to figure out how seriously to take any of this.

For the former question, I wound up siding with Toni Preckwinkle for president of the Cook County Board.

I don’t despise the notion of Todd Stroger in that post the way many people do. In fact, I find some of the reasons that people are so hung up on Stroger to be despicable.

BUT PRECKWINKLE HAS a record in the City Council as a responsible official, and there is a part of her that could carry on in that mode of people trying to work together that was behind the 2008 campaign of her Hyde Park neighbor, Barack Obama.

Not that Preckwinkle is an Obama clone. But she might be the one candidate who can help Cook County get beyond the racial battle that this campaign could turn into should either Stroger or Dorothy Brown succeed.

As far as Terry O’Brien is concerned, I’ll give him credit for understanding sewage. It’s a shame he didn’t stay with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District to continue his work.

I’m not as optimistic about my choice for U.S. Senate. I went with one-time Chicago Urban League boss Cheryle Jackson largely because I have my doubts about all the other candidates. She gets my vote by default.

ALEXI GIANNOULIAS HAS barely served one term as Illinois treasurer and is already looking to move up to one of the four top political posts of Illinois (the two senators, Chicago’s mayor and Illinois’ governor). Maybe if he had spent some more time serving in that post and gaining experience, I’d feel more comfortable.

As for David Hoffman, the one-time inspector general of Chicago strikes me as the kind of guy who can root out complaints. But I’m not convinced he can handle a political position itself. It’s too bad we can’t somehow make him a “watchdog” of sorts over whoever does win the U.S. Senate election in November.

For governor, I cast my ballot with incumbent Pat Quinn to give him the nomination to run for his own term in office – rather than just going into the state history books as Rod Blagojevich’s backup.

There are those people who will claim that Quinn has appeared to be in over his head during the past year, while others (including myself) argue that opponent (and Illinois Comptroller) Dan Hynes would be equally in over his head if he won election to the position.

I’M JUST OF the viewpoint that Illinois government’s circumstances are dire and unique – anybody would have appeared to be struggling with the state’s financial mess. If it seems like I’m writing that we ought to have some stability and give Quinn a real chance to work the state upward.

Besides, unless it turns out that Quinn is running against Kirk Dillard come November, his sensibilities are preferable to everybody else who appears on that Republican ballot.

Illinois’ one-time political pest may very well be our state’s best hope.

Insofar as the rest of my ballot is concerned, I supported state Rep. Mike Boland, D-East Moline, for lieutenant governor largely out of a sense that geographic balance (he was the only guy from outside the Chicago area to get my vote) is important.

THE REMAINDER OF my votes were cast with the usual confusion or half-information that many voters have, although I will admit to givng my vote to Nicholas Karas for a judicial subcircuit post in Cook County for one borderline trivial reason – he was there.

Karas was handing out his campaign leaflet outside the early polling place, so his name was very fresh in my mind.

And yes, he was standing more than 100 feet back from the entrance to the early voting center. I checked.


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