By Mary Coen

I always vote. That’s a given for me. But I admit that there have been times, I’m ashamed to admit, when I have skipped items on the ballot, usually propositions, because I didn’t know enough to be certain which way to jump. Since my life is no longer so crazy busy, I do have time now to investigate those propositions before I vote. I’ll be glad to share with you some things I have learned about the local DuPage county ballot this year.

There are three propositions from the county this year: two involve the police, and one about medical matters – both very topical right now. The first basically states DuPage should continue to consider the funding of local police forces as its top priority; the second states that DuPage should stockpile medical supplies and personal protection equipment that might be needed for medical emergencies; the third says that DuPage should continue to fund and support police training methods that provide for their safety and that of the public.

On first reading I thought, “Well, duh, of course”. Then I began to wonder why they were even on the ballot since they are all non-binding and seemingly non-controversial. So, I read them again. In the first proposal it says that the police should be “its TOP funding priority”. Do I really think that police are that much more important than every other community service? Fire departments, teachers, medical and social professionals? They are certainly “a” priority, but “the” top one sets up an unnecessary competition in my mind.

About the medical equipment stockpile issue, I would like to know more: who exactly will be responsible for the collecting/purchasing, storing and ultimately distributing said equipment? Will it be available to be shared with neighboring counties in need and under what conditions could it be shared (sold?) to neighboring states as well?  I would like to believe that it would be done fairly and efficiently under the auspices of the medical/scientific community, but recent events have pretty much scotched that assumption.

Looking at the other police proposition I found it hard to disagree in any way with the desire for increasing safety for both police and the public; how to get there is another issue entirely. Don’t police forces already have training? Since we now know that it is not working everywhere, we have to ask “What kind of training exactly? And to what end?” Just this week both President Trump and AG William Barr both praised the US Marshal service for their swift “retribution” – referring to the Marshals’ killing of a leftist suspect being arrested for suspicion of killing a rightist in a street confrontation. They also, however, gave support for the opposite: an extreme rightest accused of killing 2 liberal protesters. This smacks of using the police not for the safety of all the public, but only the chosen ones, something we are supposed to be fixing.  How much knowledge and control can and will the local communities have over the culture and training goals of their police departments? That is more important to me than just agreeing that there should be training.

There was meant to be another proposition on the November ballot, a referendum on eliminating the county position of Recorder of Deeds and absorbing its department into that of the County Clerk. Other counties in Illinois have done this to their benefit. It would not have sacrificed any efficiency and would have saved the county up to at least $200,000 with the position vacated. In the current economic climate, it would seem to be wise to take advantage to save whenever possible. And indeed, the county board did vote to put this on the ballot last fall. In the spring, the County Clerk hired a consulting firm to further research this. Then recently, before the report was released, he proposed withdrawing the referendum, and tabling it passed, although with 7 dissenting votes. Why? The report, now publicly available, did reaffirm that the proposal would be money-saving. If this was positioning for some potential political gain, then I wonder if the first three aren’t there for a similar reason.

I am not yet certain where I stand on adding my vote to the propositions as they stand. I wish the last one was still on the ballot; I would have had no uncertainty about voting for that one.