My friend Pat McGuire was an English teacher until four years ago, when he ran for treasurer of Will County, Ill. He won. But now it's four years later, and he's in a race for reelection, and he needs to generate enthusiasm, lest a throw-the-bums-out mood causes people to vote automatically against the incumbent.
And really, what would be the harm in that? I mean, what does a treasurer do, exactly? Assuming he's not pocketing the property tax checks, what's the difference between a bad treasurer and a good one?
Communication, sez Pat.
In an e-mail to supporters explaining why we should take a chunk of a Saturday and drive to the aptly-named town of Plainfield, Ill. and march with him in a parade, Pat says it's traditionally a good event, with "an authentic, joyous atmosphere because it's homecoming."
I also like the job I have and want to keep it. Cindy Cain of The Herald News called today because she's been assigned to interview both candidates for treasurer. I'm thinking of questions Cindy might ask me when we meet this Friday. One could be this: "Of what are you most proud of accomplishing as treasurer?"
My answer would be this:
"I'm most proud of establishing two-way communication with the public. My staff and I work every day to teach taxpayers who's who and what's what and what their rights are, and our efforts are paying off. More taxpayers know more about the property-tax system.
"The other side of the coin is that taxpayers tell us what's on their minds. That's why we wrote the fact sheet 'Why Did My Property Taxes Go Up?' and why we cut our budget.
"Taxpayers also suggest how we can improve our work. For instance, we keep a folder labeled 'Bill improvements' containing suggestions from taxpayers how to make the tax bill easier to read and more helpful. We've incorporated many of those suggestions.
"This is what democracy should be—an honest, ongoing, productive conversation between the government and the people."
Please let me know if you will march with us in Plainfield bright and early this Saturday!
Sincerely, indeed. McGuire for Treasurer.