My turn

Primary election offers lesson in government, politics

2013-03-07T00:00:00Z Primary election offers lesson in government, politicsGeorge Grenchik Times Columnist
March 07, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Generally, primary elections are a preliminary step in electing those who will head various levels of government. But in some areas like Calumet City and the 2nd Congressional District, which includes most all of The Times' Illinois circulation area, the primary election IS the election.

Although a lot of people were not happy that a lot of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s money was injected into the race for Jesse Jackson Jr’s seat in Congress, we finally have a representative. (It appears that Jackson’s next seat will be in a cell).

Robin Kelly was the overwhelming choice to replace him. And, hopefully, the good people of the south suburbs will have effective representation in Washington. I believer we will.

In Calumet City the political landscape changed very little. Except in the 4th  Ward, all of the incumbents were, in effect, re-elected. There will be no real opposition for the clerk, treasurer, or aldermen in the general election on April 9.

Mayor Michelle may or may not have an opponent on the ballot on April 9, as a court will decide whether Brian Wilson’s name can appear on the ballot as an independent candidate.

I am not much of a political creature, though I do follow politics and government fairly closely. In this primary election, though, I was a participant. One of my kids (former students) was running for alderman of my ward. I told him I would help.

Eric Schneider has worked on election campaigns; he was on board with former Illinois Sen. Peter Fitzgerald’s successful campaign. But he has never been a candidate in an election himself.

As his social studies teacher, I told him as I told everyone else, you need to know how the government works and it’s not a bad idea to be active in the process. I guess I’d better walk the walk since I talked the talk.

So I was a poll watcher in my own voting precinct. It turned out to be a tedious job. Not because of the amount of work, but because of the opposite.

I was given a list of all the registered voters in the precinct and was to check off those who came in to vote and generally watch for any chicanery. There was little of either — voters or chicanery. Eric’s opponent had been ruled off the ballot for various discrepancies with his nominating petitions. So there was no competition for the position. And if you remember, election day, Feb. 26, was a weather mess.

Those two factors along with people not listening to their social studies teachers, meant ...  not a lot of voters. Of the 400 or 500 names on my list, a grand total of 61 were crossed off that day. (There was a small number who voted early). That is a pretty miniscule percentage.

What I took away from my day working the polls was a first hand view of how high levels of organization help win elections. I was also impressed by the conscientious attention to detail of the election judges, especially after the polls had closed. They had put in a very long day, but they seemed to follow the meticulous details prescribed in their manuals to ensure the integrity of the process and the validity of the vote.


You are all invited to St. Victor Trivia Nite Out. The event is 7:30 p.m. March 23 in the church hall, 553 Hirsch Ave. in Cal City.

Teams of up to six players compete for fun, a little cash, and the world renowned Beanie Boyz/Stony Monestere traveling trophy. Bring your own snack and we will sell beverages (beer, wine, pop, and water). These events have been a lot of fun. Questions? Contact me.

Thanks for reading.

The opinions are solely those of the writer. George Grenchik is a longtime Calumet City resident and retired instructor at Bishop Noll Institute in Hammond. He can be reached at

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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