I recently got a call from a resident asking if the Peoria mayor was Republican or Democrat. It was the first thing out of his mouth. Honestly, I didn’t know which party she is affiliated with. And maybe that is a good thing, which I will explain later.
After a quick line of questioning, I discovered he and his wife were deciding whether to vote for the override, which has become a hot topic here in Peoria. I have written a number of stories about the override election, which is on the Nov. 5 ballot that should have arrived in your mail at this point.
He probably saw my phone number at the bottom of one of the articles and decided to give me a call.
He stridently told me he is a Republican and only votes along party lines, and hates the Peoria Unified override and wouldn’t be voting for it, adding that Donald Trump has made it so that everybody hates everybody and that’s just the way it is.
All this came in only a few breaths.
I tried to explain to him that school elections are non-partisan and should not be injected with political ideology and if he was really interested in making an informed decision he should do some research and then vote his conscience. I tried to learn more of his underpinnings but he quickly, though politely, got off the phone with me before it went any deeper.
The call troubled me for many reasons, most notable that he was so quick to accept hate, and seemed to hold the president responsible for it, but didn’t afford him any consequences for it. It was as if a lifetime of voting along party lines had led him astray, but it was too close to the bone for him to reflect on it. Not to get too philosophical, but it seems some people so desperately want to cling to their beliefs as the world becomes too complex to support them.
A week earlier I received another call from a man who also quickly noted his disdain for the override and how PUSD’s many superintendents were running the district into the ground and how school buses were making traffic terrible again. I tried to inform him there is only one superintendent of PUSD and that traffic tends gets worse during the school year (and when snowbirds return, too).
This man got off the phone with me quicker than the aforementioned gentleman, but not as politely.
The two red hot calls were proof that ideology and partisanship have infected our elections, and quite frankly, our lives. They should not have a place in local elections, such as school board and city council. But it has gotten everybody into such a tizzy that they blindly stick to their side and refuse to be bothered by alternative viewpoints. This includes both Democrats and Republicans.
The previous line is when I stopped writing. I stepped away from finishing this piece because I wasn’t sure what else to say and I was overwhelmed by the unfortunate calls.
A few days later when I came back to complete this piece, (literally, as I began writing) I received a letter to the editor from a resident who really did want to make an informed decision about the override, and not just vote one way because that’s the way it has always it been, or vote one way because that’s what she heard in her echo chamber. Then I looked at all the recently sent letters from residents about the override — all thoughtful in their own way — and took pause.
Please do yourself a favor and check out our opinions page. Take a cue from all the letters published there. The writers reminded me that there are still many people out there who are doing the research to make an informed decision and vote their conscious. And in this day and age, that’s inspiring.
Editor’s note: Philip Haldiman is the news editor for the Peoria Independent. Submit letters to email@example.com.