Republicans v. Democrats: A Red Herring


Quick…name one issue facing Park Ridge city government that can be reduced to either a “Republican” position or a “Democratic” position.

Give up? That’s okay, because there isn’t one. If there was, it would have come out in the most recent local election between two nominal “independents,” one of whom is a well-known Republican who successfully branded the other a Democrat in what was supposed to be a non-partisan election.

Only a few years ago city government in Park Ridge was dominated by the Homeowners Party (the “HOs”), an organization that its then-president Roger Crawford and then-mayor Ron Wietecha (in a February 6, 2005, essay in the Park Ridge Herald-Advocate) proclaimed to be “not an issues-based political party.” The HOs traditionally handpicked their candidates for city offices through clubby ward caucuses that operated pretty much according to the Chicago Democratic Machine’s motto: “We don’t want nobody nobody sent.”

For more than two decades the HOs’ overwhelmingly Republican membership could claim to be non-partisan because HO candidates generally ran unopposed. That changed two years ago, however, when four “independent” candidates with admitted Democrat leanings defeated their Republican-leaning HO opponents for seats on the City Council.

And that changed further this April when the HOs surprisingly did not field a slate of candidates. Successful mayoral candidate Howard Frimark, a long-time HO wearing the “independent” banner (as he did during his 4th Ward aldermanic campaign in 2003), took on former Ald. Michael Tinaglia, also running as an “independent” after having been elected to the City Council twice as a HO.

Frimark hammered Tinaglia as a partisan Democrat who accepted a $250 contribution from Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, while at the same time emphasizing his own support by the Maine Twp. Republican organization and collecting written endorsements and contributions from Republican State Sen. Dave Sullivan ($1,500) and Republican State Rep. Rosemary Mulligan ($1,500), reportedly the first time they endorsed candidates for Park Ridge offices.

Although billing it as Republican v. Democrat was a convenient way to hold a mayoral election without any serious discussion, debate and answers for the real issues facing our community, our citizens deserve much more – especially when there doesn’t seem to be a dime’s worth of difference between local Republicans and Democrats when it comes to governing our city.

How do the Republicans differ from the Democrats on Uptown Redevelopment? How do they differ on zoning, public safety, traffic congestion or taxation? The simple answer is: They don’t.

But so long as politicians and their backers insist on labeling what should be a non-partisan process as a partisan battle between Republicans and Democrats, local elections will continue to dis-serve the voters with partisan smoke and mirrors. And the unpleasant odor permeating the process will be the smell of a red herring.

1 comment so far

You can’t be serious. I mean, EVERYBODY KNOWS you only get your street repaved, your parkway trees trimmed and your garbage picked up if you vote for one party and one party only…and NO!, cross-over voting does NOT count!

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