Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Can't We All Just Get Along?

We are approaching that time of year when we elect two new trustees and a new mayor in our little Village. And like in years past, I find again that people who I thought I knew and liked become vicious and petty, all in support of their candidates and their personal agendas. You thought national politics was bad? You ain’t seen nothing until you’ve witnessed what goes on here.

On the one side, you’ve got a mayor who is technically a Democrat but who ran, and won, on the Republican ticket. On the other, you have a former trustee, a registered Democrat, who is vying for that position. Both men—with whom I both agree and disagree on a number of different issues—are to be commended for their willingness to throw their individual hats into this mudfest we call a “campaign.” At issue is the rezoning (according to the Democrats) or development (according to the Republicans) of a part of the Village that is virtually a ghost town, most restaurants and/or businesses having fled in the past several years for greener pastures or bankruptcy—we’re actually not sure which.

Both sides have good points. On the Democratic side, are we willing to just let this part of town founder and wither? On the Republican side, where will everyone park provided that the plan goes through to attract new businesses and increase the number of rental units? I would love to see both sides debate these issues with the facts at hand and decorum in full force. But we won’t get this wish because of the inflammatory nature of each argument. So what we get are accusations, recriminations, slander and libel.

I might be wrong, but aren’t we all adults? And don’t we live in a Village of 7,500 people where it is entirely possible that the person you wrote horrible things about on the local blog might just run into you at the Post Office?

This lack of civility in local politics—and I swear it is entirely more civilized at the national level—has me feeling very sad for our Village. It also makes me feel that someone who may be interested in becoming a public servant—and a good one at that—may see what goes in our local papers, online, and at various Village meetings and decide that they just don’t have the stomach for it. I can’t say that I blame them. A recent posting by a Villager on the local blog excoriated another poster for their opinion on a political issue related to this year’s election, ending his screed with an allegation of the other poster’s “drunkenness.” We can all disagree, and we do. But do we have to bring personal attacks into the discussion?

I guess I’d like to know from our Stiletto Gang readers if this type of behavior is rampant and exists all over the country or if what I am witnessing is an anomaly. I’m hoping it’s the latter. But at this point, all I can say is that I can’t wait for this election to be over. May the thicker-skinned candidate win.

Maggie Barbieri


  1. I agree that local politics is only for those with strong stomachs. In my town, there's no pay for the Village Board positions, and the mayor gets a minor stipend. Equally thankless is being elected to the school board. Oy!

    Here's hoping a more civil approach to village politics can be found.


  2. I live in an unincorporated area with no tax based and yet we have a wonderful rodeo grounds that is maintained and used for far more than rodeos (has a baseball diamond on the grounds that is used for Little League and adult softball), and the museum is also there.

    Our park was completely redone through donations and volunteer labor.

    Hope it never becomes a real town.


  3. I live in a suburb of Los Angeles. Our local politics got very nasty during the last election. We have a normally wonderful, small-town-atmosphere community, but a big issue on last November's ballot pitted neighbor against neighbor and it became ugly. Very disheartening.