So, what if you had a forum and nobody came?
That’s just about what happened last Wednesday at the gym in the Ginger Ridge apartment complex (I didn’t know Ginger Ridge had a gym either).
A group called Immigrant Workers' Project had planned and advertised a candidates' forum so people could meet and ask questions of the candidates for mayor, clerk, treasurer, and alderpersons in the Feb. 28 primary election.
Not a bad or uncommon idea, though it's been a long time since it’s been done in Calumet City. The last one I remember was at TF North’s auditorium prior to Mayor Michelle’s Markiewicz Qualkinbush’s first election as mayor.
Back to the "nobody came" part.
For a good while a grand total of one candidate was present — there are three administrative and seven alderman positions up for election, the majority of which are contested.
Fairly early on, three more candidates appeared. The candidates in attendance were Same Williams, Jr. (5th ward), Darryl Jester (2nd ward), Scott Windham (6th ward), and Miacole S. Nelson (7th ward).
The forum was well organized and followed a common format. There were timed opening and closing statements from the candidates, questions submitted from the organizing committee and questions submitted from the audience. All proceedings were also translated into Spanish.
By my quite unscientific estimate (I tried to count the people) there were perhaps 75 to 100 in attendance. People were asked not to have political paraphernalia or to be boisterous in response to what was said.
People complied with that request.
Some of the topics dealt with were questions about the monthly water and refuse bills and the $35 late fee, police sensitivity toward special needs citizens, immigrant issues and sanctuary city questions.
All in all I thought it was a well-run and productive evening... except for the fact that so few candidates attended.
Organizers told me that numerous contacts were made to candidates including hand delivering invites to incumbents at a city council meeting. No one, except for Williams, Jester, Windham and Nelson attended.
Maybe other candidates thought the organizers were an off-the-wall group looking to stir up trouble, or an anti-incumbent rabble-rousing group.
I surely didn’t get that sense.
And although there were some in the crowd who had issues with the current administration, they were hardly an undisciplined mob. Any way, elected officials are on to respond to their constituents.
But you can’t respond if you’re not there.
Thanks for reading.