Thursday, March 26, 2009

Thoughts on the campaign trail (not that I am exactly)

The SSCP has just returned from a brief sojourn in Salt Lake City where he attended the American Chemical Society spring meeting. The drooping economy combined with the threat of conversion by the always friendly Mormon population served to render the attendance lower than is customary at these meetings, for which I was not unappreciative; shorter lines in the registration, free hors d'oeuvres (for what they were worth)and the restrooms being among the more pleasant consequences of the low turn-out. Some of my ardent readers will probably be outraged at the idea of community college professor (I bet the very word sticks in the craw) attending a conference which is the usual turf of captains of industry and faculty from real universities. "Get over yourself!" they might say. "Community colleges are the minor leagues." Smoke would likely issue from there ears to learn the tab was paid by the federal taxpayer. So thanks to all of you.

Anyway, I have rather digressed from the original intent of observing upon the happenings around the COD election. It is now less than two weeks to go. I noticed the proliferation of yard signs in some areas as I drove back from the airport. Some quite hideous large orange ones about the size of fence, rammed into the ground by pieces of scaffolding: the seamier side of campaigning. It's all about the name.

From articles in the paper and elsewhere, it appears that some candidates have been quite active, while others have been totally invisible. The four candidates endorsed by Friends for Education, Sandy Kim, Kim Savage, Tom Wendorf and Nancy Svoboda have been among the most active, accessible to media and forums in the area. Only a moment ago I was very gratified to learn that the Daily Herald has endorsed three of the four. Poor Nancy left out in the cold, but I hope she will prevail. Oddly, one of the more significant candidates, the current COD board chair has been strangely silent and has been, shall we say selective, in his choices of where to make statements. You might think it appropriate that a COD trustee, a representative of the college, should talk with the student newspaper, even if he doesn't like the people who run it. Instead the paper was disdained, dismissed as a vehicle of the faculty. It is worth pointing out that the faculty at COD comprise only about 300 people out of a far larger workforce. I think it is fair to say that the majority of that workforce are at a lower ebb in their collective morale than at any time in the college's history. DuPage United was similarly shunned - a tool of unionists supposedly. Funny, I didn't think the many churches and synagogue that comprise much of DuPage United were members of the IEA. In any event, make your case if you are worthy of it.

Other candidates have been completely invisible; I know not even their names at this point and of course would not wish to dignify them by mentioning them. If not a word is spoken by these shadows, will they still receive any votes? The answer is quite likely yes. Worse, could they be elected? Possibly. For one wonders the degree to which the electorate really educates itself about elections of this sort. History is full of examples where the recognition of a surname, even if that surname recognized actually belonged to someone else, is all the trigger a person needs to make a selection. Not a word about issues, experience, vision, plans etc. While modern republics tended to decry the existence of royal families where succession is determined by birth (the divine right of kings), in America the political landscape is littered with similar dynasties even though no divine rights are invoked. Their successors are more grimily ensured, with the great assistance of name recognition. What's worse is that these political families have real power, whereas the remaining monarchies are largely tourist attractions.

As the Naperville Sun pointed out in its column today, "The controversies swirling around the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn make this campaign more like an episode of "The Hills" than a typical ho-hum community college election." Humerous but sadly spot on. There are matters of huge import at stake here. It is greatly to be wished that the electorate educate themselves on the candidates, and that means only considering candidates who have bothered to create a manifesto. And that of course really only leaves one with four options: Sandy, Kim, Tom and Nancy.

April 7th. It's soon.

No comments: