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Local Column

Olson: Show up, be engaged, don’t hike taxes

Election workers wait for voters to check in during a slow time Tuesday at the polling place located in the Terrace Room at the Hopkins Park Community Center in DeKalb.
Election workers wait for voters to check in during a slow time Tuesday at the polling place located in the Terrace Room at the Hopkins Park Community Center in DeKalb.

We’ve finished another round of local elections – hard fought in some quarters, scarcely noticed in others. 

To those who ran and lost, thank you for your effort and for giving voters a choice. Options tend to be scarce on these ballots, and without competing views, how are we to decide what we really think is best of our community’s future? 

To those who won, whether you had an opponent or not, congratulations. You’ll be compensated little if at all for your time in the coming years, but the work you do will be important. 

There’s a simple formula for success: Show up, be engaged, and don’t raise taxes.

People voted for you for many reasons. Maybe they knew you personally and trust you. Maybe they liked your views and positions during the campaign. They may dislike your opponent, or picked your name because was first on the ballot, or it sounded Irish.

Whatever reasons they had, there are some things they almost certainly do not want from you. 

Most importantly, they want lower property taxes. Property tax rates are out of control in Illinois as a whole and in DeKalb County specifically. If property taxes were reduced to the levels people in some states pay, a lot of us could finance a new car with the money we’d save in monthly payments.

That’s the buying power that property taxes are taking out of the hands of homeowners. Keep that in mind when administrators say you need to increase the property tax levy to “capture new growth” so there’s no “missing out” on revenue. 

Your constituents – homeowners and business owners alike – are paying a lot, and they’re not exaggerating when they say they can’t afford more. 

They also don’t want people who don’t read the background material, or who are too busy to come to meetings, or who say nothing at meetings and then vote the same way every time. 

Nobody voted for a representative who will be inaccessible, who will decline to comment about issues confronting the community, or who views certain groups as political adversaries. The issues our communities face usually are not partisan ones. Liberals and conservatives alike want passable roads, job growth, and for the trash to be picked up on time. 

They want their schools to be efficient, effective and financially healthy. They want parks and libraries maintained and useful. 

Those of you who were elected Tuesday are the public’s choice to help achieve those goals.

Congratulations, and good luck.

• Eric Olson is general manager of the Daily Chronicle. Reach him at 815-756-4841 ext. 2257, email eolson@shawmedia.com, or follow him on Twitter @DC_Editor.  

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