Congratulations to Ald. Emma Mitts, 37th Ward! She won. With five opponents on the ballots, she was able to capture 59 percent of the vote and win another four-year term. I was one of those opponents. I didn’t do well. In fact, I came in last.
I have always said that “you can’t have a race without runners.” But a race without spectators, now that is different. Without people to watch the race, can it be called a race? So was there really a race for alderman when not a single candidate’s forum was held in the ward for those of us who made it on the ballot?
Now there were several forums held outside of the ward. Cong. Danny K. Davis sponsored some in December 2006 before it was known who was on or off the ballot. The Westside Branch NAACP gave one for all the candidates in the various wards. The South Austin Coalition (SACCC) gave one during the day for the seniors who attend their satellite center. We had one small forum in the ward held in the basement of a home before it was known who was on/off the ballot. But once the ballot names were put in place, not one church, LSC, block club, community group, community newspaper or non-profit entity-who all claim they are concerned about the 37th Ward and the surrounding communities-hosted a forum. Why was that?
Now as one who ran in 2003, I recall at least several forums put on by community groups. But four years later, all thoughts of forums had mysteriously been but on the back-burner. Obviously with five challengers running, there were at least five reasons that so many people were running for the current alderman’s seat. Yet no one in the 37th Ward was interested in doing their civic duty to present the candidates to the community. I won’t even ask why. The answer is clear.
The community was expected to select their leadership for the next four years based on anything but the issues. And it worked! There was no serious discussion of property taxes, education, public safety, CTA, grocery stores, ex-offenders, jobs, TIF money, lack of locally-owned businesses, cars being booted, tickets, redevelopment of Chicago and North avenues, emergency strategies in case of a local disaster, abandoned houses, low-income housing, senior centers, homeowner issues and on and on. In other words, the “status quo” is again the measure of this community. We are all happy with how things are. There are no complaints. There are not any problems. Everything is OK.
No one knows what the future will bring. Running for office is always an eye-opening experience. As a candidate, I felt that I knew the pulse of the community. Nothing corrects that faster than a vote count. The lack of support that I got is either testament to my being way off base when it comes to what this community wants or this community is so asleep at the wheel that even a good strong kick won’t wake it up.
I am not going to let one election define me or what I see as my purpose here. I am but one voice, but I will continue to be a loud voice. I will be loud when things are right, and I won’t be silent when things are wrong.