Friday, March 6, 2009

Low vote turnout in 5th District foreboding for Orland Park?

The low voter turnout in the 5th Congressional District was really shocking. Literally, 10 percent of the registered voters in the district turned out to vote this past week on Tuesday March 3 to select a candidate to lead their parties in the April 7 election for congress.

Some might say the primary election is always low and the April 7 election will have a higher voter turnout. The voters are merely waiting to let the Democrats, Republicans and Independents fight it out amongst themselves first. And, they will then go to the polls April 7 to select from that final round.

If that is true, it only shows how naive voters really are. The primary election pretty much sealed the fate on that district. Fortunately, Cook County Board Mike Quigley, who won the Democratic nomination, will almost certainly become the congressman in the seat once held by Rahm Emanuel, a very controversial former congressman who is now President Barack Obama's Chief of Staff.

What does it mean for Orland Park. This week, candidates in the village elections and township elections will be able to start putting up their campaign election signs.

The key contests are between Village President (Mayor) Dan McLaughlin and his slate versus Gerald Maher and his slate, and on the Township level between Township Supervisor Robert Maher and his slate and his challenger Paul O'Grady and his slate. And, there is an important contest to fill one trustee seat on the Orland Park Fire District. There are four candidates and one known name, Cindy Katsenes along with a young candidate Chris Ciciora.

In the past, Orland's mayoral contests have drawn strong voter participation, more than 10,000 voters (our town only edged towards 60,000 population this past year so that's a great turnout). Will it last? It takes community interest in the issues, not the fluff, and it takes money to reach the voters.

I'll get into all three elections in the coming weeks.

-- Ray Hanania

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