Saturday, October 21, 2006

Case In Point By Joe Koester, Councilman Ward 9

A baseball game is simply a nervous breakdown divided into nine innings. 
Earl Wilson

Tonight was Meet-the-Candidate Night at Sts. Joachim and Ann. Most all the candidates showed up to shake a few hands. Certainly, the baseball game kept some people away. Sharon Boerding brought a radio so those interested could pop over to her table and ask the score.

I enjoyed the event – it was a chance for everyone to come together and walk around chatting informally about similarities and sometimes just about, “How things are with you.” In this setting, the candidates are face-to-face and civil. Each person even encourages one another in spite of partisan differences.
I had a few people come to my table and I enjoyed being able to talk more in depth about the issues that prompted my decision to run.

I spoke to a couple of candidates about my 2000 race against Joe Ortwerth. The race was fun, the race was civil, and the race was about some basic differences that I had with the county executive. I have no bad feelings towards Joe and believe he has no bad feelings towards me. I even attended his first open public church service.

From council, I voted for the cessation of the $300,000 payment to the county for the Family Arena since they had failed to have enough ticketed events as required by contract. Mr. Ortwerth has withheld road funds, so an agreement was met that we would pay last year’s bill, but not the current bill. Each side could walk away from the table having won a victory – it was compromise.
When ideas are discussed, when policy is the focus of a campaign, oftentimes the competition alone can bring positive change by redirecting each candidate’s focus.

It seems that recent elections have had hot-button issues included on the ballot. These issues typically create quite an emotional stir. The issues have tended to be those that bring out the conservative base but have little to do with cleaning up government or about policy that helps people.

It’s not easy to step out into the public arena and take a position on issues. I try to give honest opinions based upon my observations and reason. The last Case in Point addressed the corruption that plagues the GOP – someone was kind enough to send a letter about their disagreement but apparently he was not confident enough about his positions to actually have a return address or to sign the letter. Please, send letters if you want, but have the courage to sign the words you put onto paper. I don’t even mind if you use hotel stationary again – but a return address is appreciated so that I might have an opportunity to send a respectful response.

Tuesday night’s council meeting went rather quickly. One gentleman in the audience was there with a campaign or committee to take some photographs, surely to use in a piece of literature. I was upset that he chose that particular night because I really needed a haircut and I had come to city hall straight from running around and putting up some signs. Otherwise it was pretty quiet and the Cardinal game called for a swift meeting.

At our district, first quarter ends tomorrow and there is a lot of grading yet to do, so I will have to keep this Case In Point short.

Oh, and if you see a local politician coming to your door, give him or her a break; take a minute or two to chat and keep an open mind. Civility begets civility.