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.
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.