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Olson: Hurry up and get here, Election Day

Published: Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012 5:30 a.m. CDT

There are so many times and ways you can vote these days, but voting on Election Day is still the most satisfying.

Walk into your local polling place, sign your name (still no ID required, thank you) fill in the bubbles, stick the form in the machine, and that’s it.

There’s a sense of finality. After all the robo-calls, the campaign mailers, the second-hand exposure to negative campaign ads on TV and radio – most of them for races that don’t apply to you – and it’s game over.

Wednesday morning should signal the end of the baby kissing and back-and-forth accusations. The mattress commercials will be back on TV, and most of us can stop caring about Ohio altogether.

Of course, the most annoying aspects of these races are side-effects of the obnoxiously expensive presidential and other campaigns being financed by the national political parties, along with those Super PACs that can spend as much money as they want to promote a viewpoint without telling you who they are.

(That’s not a sustainable system, incidentally, and it will be the ruin of our system unless we change our Constitution. But I digress.)

Although many of us reached saturation level with the presidential candidates weeks ago, the local races might remain more of a mystery.

That’s why we’ve dedicated space in today’s Daily Chronicle to share the views of local candidates on topics.

The responses in print today also are on our Election Central website, at www.elections.Daily-Chronicle.com. There are more questions and answers there, as well as biographical information about the candidates for DeKalb County Board, State’s Attorney, 23rd Circuit Judge and Regional Superintendent of Schools.

On election night, we’ll be posting election returns as they come in. Our team of reporters also will be out, talking with the candidates. If you want to join the conversation, we’ll have a running thread on Twitter, using the hashtag #DCEC.

You also can follow the Daily Chronicle on Twitter @Daily_Chronicle, and like our Facebook page to get election updates – all kinds of news updates, really – through social media.

In a lot of ways, these local races will have more direct impact on your life than who wins the presidential race.

We hope today’s edition and the Election Central website will help you feel informed when you step into the voting booth Tuesday.

• • •

The old man: We had a surprise party for my Dad last weekend for his 65th birthday.

He was surprised when he walked into the room to see all of us there, yelling “Surprise!” at him.

There were no cardiac issues, which was a plus. Nobody wants to be at the surprise party that makes the guest of honor drop dead. What’s the age limit on conspiring as a group to startle someone anyway? Seems like 65 would be pretty close.

Now that Dad is 65, it probably won’t be too much longer before he hangs it up. Retires, I mean.

And then I’ll be working to support him. So will all of you out there who are lucky enough to be employed and pay Social Security and Medicare taxes.

In a way, it’s kind of cool. My father did a lot for me. He taught me how to play baseball, fish and drive stick shift. He drove me all over the place for various sporting events. He worked an overnight shift with FedEx at O’Hare Airport for years to support the family. He racked up a lot of debt to send me and my siblings to college.

He also had to survive two tours in Vietnam so that I could be born.

Having a father about to retire really makes all the talk about Social Security taxes and Medicare reform and the rest of it a little more personal for me.

There’s lots of men and women like Dad out there. He’s just the beginning of the Baby Boom retiree wave that’s about to wash over the country.

Let’s hope all their retirement parties are followed by job openings. Those of us in the workforce are going to have to work to do if we’re going to keep the ol’ social safety net intact.

But will there be anything left for us when we retire? Seems like whoever wins the presidential election Tuesday might have a thing or two to do with that.

• • •

Bravo, Grace: We’ve pre-empted our weekly “Thumbs up, thumbs down” editorial on the Opinions page this week to make way for a closer look at the candidates in the race for DeKalb County State’s Attorney.

But I couldn’t let this week pass without giving a thumbs up to 13-year-old Grace Ballas of Somonauk, who shaved her head in front of her whole school Wednesday morning to raise money for breast cancer research.

Ballas, who was featured in the Daily Chronicle this week, also donated her 22-inch-long hair to Locks of Love.

Thumbs up to the community, too, for donating $2,700 to the Susan G. Komen Foundation. That was a brave and unselfish thing for anyone to do, especially someone only 13 years old.

I’m 34 and I’ve never had the guts to shave my head. I’ve never seen much of my scalp. I’m kind of scared what I might find under there.

• • •

Go Huskies: The Northern Illinois University football team is 8-1, and they’re a heavy favorite to extend their Huskie Stadium winning streak to 20 games Saturday afternoon.

Coach Dave Doeren has used the word “Heisman” when talking about quarterback Jordan Lynch, who leads the nation with 3,196 yards of total offense, and leads FBS schools with 32 touchdowns.

They’re playing right here in DeKalb at 2:30 p.m. Saturday against the winless UMass Minutemen. Show up and you’ll probably get a chance to see Lynch pad his statistics even more.

Oddsmakers have set the line at five touchdowns.

The Huskies aren’t ranked yet, but if they keep winning, they’ll be impossible to ignore soon.

• Eric Olson is editor of the Daily Chronicle. Reach him at 815-756-4841 ext. 257, email eolson@shawmedia.com, or follow him on Twitter @DC_Editor.

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