Not Again, Zac!

Please run for alderman when you're really ready for it.

Oh! I can hear just one of my biggest detractors now. “You want us to get involved, but then in the next breath you tell us not to get involved.”

It’s true! I will gladly plead nolo contendere to that notion, because when I issue a call for y’all to get involved, you’re supposed to implicitly understand the implied assertion is only the right people are supposed to get involved.

Because, sadly, it doesn’t matter whether it’s an activist group, the City Council, or the County Board and above, those political mediums tend to attract the kind of flawed people who, lacking any kind of solid self-definition, run simply to feed their egos.

Before you skip the rest and rush down to the comment section, please allow me to pre-empt you by freely admitting that this columnist gig is nothing more than a substitute for the fact my mother never loved me and those ensuing insecurities instigated a masochistic need to take abuse from all of you.

Happy now?

But I digress. Whether you think I'm psychotic or not, when you look at some of the folks who’ve taken a shot at the Geneva City Council, it’s really terrifying.

In 2008, Mark Peterson had to pull out of the 5th Ward aldermanic race after racking up his fourth DUI charge with a loaded gun in his car. He told the non-amused St. Charles police he was ready to back them up at a moment's notice.

He got his fifth DUI while he was out on bond for the fourth.

Then Geneva Library Board member Esther Barclay decided to run for Chuck Brown’s 1st Ward seat. The problem with that is, every time Esther gets up to speak at a City Council meeting, I come away feeling like I just watched a foreign language film without the subtitles.

This, of course, brings us to 21-year-old Zac Ploppert, who’s recent announcement of his second aldermanic bid left me utterly underwhelmed. He may make more sense than Barclay, but more often than not that’s a race that’s too close to call.

On the one hand, it would not be the worst thing in the world to see Alderman Sam Hill bow out gracefully with his reputation intact. His lifetime of dedicated service to the city of Geneva should remain the stuff of legend.

Once again, before you hit the submit button, please let me also stipulate that, though , Zac isn’t a bad guy. And unlike some other unmentionable local politicians, he actually has some redeeming qualities. The thing is, being a nice guy and four bucks will get you a small cup of coffee at Starbucks.

It doesn’t qualify you to represent the citizens of Geneva.

His thoughts on fine still make me cringe. Despite evidence to the contrary, Zac essentially said the now-adopted $250 underage drinking fine would send a message to those teenagers who weren’t getting caught drinking.

Then there’s his current press release contention that his tenure as the customer service manager at the new has given him the experience to represent residents and business alike.

Zac, while that’s certainly an admirable start, the fact you think that’s all it takes makes me very nervous. Come back and talk to us when you’ve actually run a business.

And speaking of things that make me nervous, I hope you realize the reason Mayor Kevin Burns so wholeheartedly supports you is because he believes, once elected, your council vote will be a regular slam dunk.

One of the first things you need to understand about running for office is that political support always comes at a steep price. Just ask Randy Hultgren.

Though I’m sure you won’t listen to me, (nobody ever does) I’m gonna give this my best shot. So here’s some of my infamous unsolicited advice.

You just got your elementary school teaching degree and, with your energy and enthusiasm (as well as a dearth of male elementary school teachers), I have no doubt that you’ll quickly land a job.

So drop the aldermanic bid and teach for four or five years first. You’ll learn about politics, how to work in a compromise-driven institution and, best of all, how to deal with the insane parents of entitled little darlings which will specifically prepare you for serving on any city council.

I promise you that being a teachers will be quite the eye-opening experience.

Then, if you decide to run in four or five years, I will be the first one to lend you support.

If you lose this election—and considering your previous vote totals, you likely will—you will be tagged as a perennial political also ran. And unless you have Jim Oberweis money, you will be deemed unelectable when you’re really ready to run.

Zac! I completely agree with you! The City Council desperately needs younger voices, but youth, in and of itself, ain’t nothin’ special, if for no other reason than we’ve all been through it. What Geneva really needs are a few more Richard Marks and Dean Kilburgs—folks with a reasonable amount of experience who are serving out of a sense of civic responsibility and not some need to fill a huge emotional hole or for self-aggrandizement.

Bob June 18, 2012 at 01:45 PM
Zac dont listen to him, nobody else does.
Bob June 18, 2012 at 01:46 PM
Zac dont listen to him, nobody else does.
Jeff Ward June 18, 2012 at 02:26 PM
Bob, What's up with the digital stuttering? And I clearly stipulated that no one listens to me in the column. The sad thing is, Zac will lose this election and, after two big losses, will never be taken seriously as a candidate again. I don't make those rules, but if you're gonna play the game you oughtta understand all the potential consequences. Jeff
Angela Kane June 18, 2012 at 06:55 PM
Jeff, you can't have it both ways. Either you want people to step forward to run for public office and serve their community or you don't. Let the voters decide who they want to elect.
Jeff Ward June 18, 2012 at 06:58 PM
Angela, The joy of being a columnist is, yes I can! But the sad truth is, if Zac does lose again, it will be very hard for him to win in the future. The voters don't like a loser. He'd be far better off waiting a few years till he has more experience behind him. Jeff
Angela Kane June 18, 2012 at 07:28 PM
Well the joy of being one of the regular folk out here is that I can call bull-hockey on your hypocrisy! If someone wants to run for a public office it should be the choice of the VOTERS if they get elected--not you. It's up to Zac (whom I don't know) to decide if he should run or what his future will be in the "I wanna run for office" thing. Jeff if you're so smarmy, why don't you run for office and reveal all the great wisdom you have?
Jeff Ward June 18, 2012 at 07:37 PM
Angela, I know you love me - don't try denying it. The irony is, I'm actually trying to help Zac get elected. Despite Mayor Burns' support, he came in a distant third behind Chuck Brown and Esther Barclay last round. So in order for him to prevail this time, something drastic will have had to change and it hasn't. He isn't much older, he has no more experience and he'll likely be running against seasoned opposition. But if he waits and gets some experience teaching, then he has something to sell the voters and he has a much better shot at pulling it off. As for me, I may just run someday, but I'm gonna do it when I have the best chance of winning! Jeff
Bud June 19, 2012 at 12:08 AM
Zac's lack of response to this column shows that he's has at least learned one important lesson: Don't wrestle with a pig. You just get dirty and the pig actually enjoys it!
Jack June 19, 2012 at 01:35 AM
He received 75 votes. Why does this young man offend you so much? Sounds to me like YOUR the one with the huge emotional hole in his life. Leave Zac alone and move on.
Bud June 19, 2012 at 02:10 AM
You need to learn how to research, Jeff http://www.kanecountyelections.org/ElectionResults/2011-04-05/MU-Contests.asp
G.Ryan June 19, 2012 at 03:44 AM
Bud, I must say you are a genius! Thanks for the truth.
Bud June 19, 2012 at 04:08 AM
Oh my goodness Jeff, you are laughable. Even when you are caught dead-to-rights with bad numbers or research you just can't admit you're wrong. I recall when you indignantly posted about the low salaries in dist 304 and cited United District 304 down in Monmouth, IL as evidence...haha. You're too insecure to ever cop to being wrong.
Jeff Ward June 19, 2012 at 06:47 PM
Dear Readers, I just learned there's a 95 percent chance former First Ward Alderman William Barclay will, once again, run for that city council seat. With those odds, we'll just consider this his formal announcement. With Sam Hill unlikely to run again and, having already served on that body, he will essentially be running as an incumbent which will be the final nail in Zac Ploppert's aldermanic coffin. Personally, I would welcome Mr. Barclay's return to the council because he's always managed to serve as a foil to the Mayor which, within the bounds of reason, is never a bad thing. Jeff
Rick Anderson June 19, 2012 at 09:19 PM
And Jeff while you are at it, why not ecourage Mayor Burns' biggest nemisis former Alderman Ray Pawlak to run for 3rd ward again. It is about time the the mayor is held accountable.
Jeff Ward June 19, 2012 at 10:17 PM
Rick, I'm way ahead of you. It looks like that might happen too! Jeff
James June 20, 2012 at 01:24 PM
Jeff great article! I bet zac is quaking in his berkinstocks with the notion your writing about him! Your breaking stories within stories! Way to go! I bet mayor burns is also quaking with drink in hand, knowing that someone is going to hold him accountable! Keep up the good work! I'm quaking in my New balances as I read this story!


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