Thursday, March 24, 2011

Some Reflections On Suburban Elections

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March 18, 2011   Southwest News-Herald - City & Suburban

Some Reflections On Suburban Elections

It’s so ironic that I hear many Americans complain that foreigners, especially Mexican immigrants, need to learn English when the truth is that most Americans have a lifelong difficulty with the English language themselves.

Outgoing Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley constantly mangles his sentences. Students across the nation from elementary school on up can’t seem to get their spelling right. The Internet is not helping, either, with texting that results in misspelled and confused words being sent to millions on Twitter, Facebook and Ping.

Yet, we Americans can’t give up our struggle to overcome the challenges of what is really a beautiful and simple language.

In Oak Lawn, voters living in the 3rd District will be put to a test. They are being asked to write-down two simple words on the election ballot on April 5th. D-a-n  S-o-d-a-r-o.

It’s just nine letters but the truth is there are very few elections where a write-in candidate has won, or produced significant vote totals.

Why? Because we Americans are illiterate and can’t write? Or, because we are lazy, lazy in writing and lazy in challenging a corrupt political system that discourages good people from seeking public office and helps keep a few skanky politicians from getting out?

Election laws are stacked against the average person. You have to be an insider and a part of a political Machine to win office and then sip freely from the public trough.

Dan Sodaro is just 36 years old. Here is how he describes himself in his literature:

“Dan is a lifelong resident of the 3rd District, is married to Dawn and together they have three beautiful children; Jacob, Lucas, and Abbie. For the past six years, Dan has volunteered as a Ridgeland 122 School Board member and currently serves as president of the Board. Dan is a graduate of St. Gerald's, Oak Lawn High, and Governors State University.

For the last 12 years, Dan has been employed by JPMorgan Chase. Currently, Dan is Assistant Vice President, Derivatives Documentation Negotiator. Dan’s focus as Trustee will be to establish regular communications with residents, work to resolve issues, and treat the office and residents of the 3rd District with dignity and respect.”

Sodaro is challenging longtime Trustee Bob Streit, who years ago was the outsider who challenged the old Machine. Now, he’s a part of the new Machine, and he is being challenged by a new “Bob Streit,” a young man named Dan Sodaro.

And what's the hurdle? Writing. Can voters write? Can they spell the candidate’s name “Dan Sodaro” legibly enough to satisfy the skewered election system in Oak Lawn.

I always favor the underdog and Sodaro is the underdog, a position once occupied by Streit. But I also favor having elected officials move on to make room for new and younger faces.

And when you have been a trustee for 20 years — two decades — maybe it is time to just move on and make room for someone else.

I say that with great difficulty because I really do like Bob Streit. I just don’t like the people he’s been hanging around with and the politics that he has wrapped himself in. I guess, I long for the old Bob Streit. And maybe that’s what I see in Dan Sodaro.

(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist and media consultant. Reach him at

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