You need only step out your front door to know that it's autumn in Chicago. The leaves are turning, the air is crisp, and the days are shortening. It's also the season of politics across the country, in our state, and here in Winnetka.
The Winnetka Caucus Council is not a political organization, but our work affects the policies and political work of our community. The major caucus committees have spent the late-summer and early-autumn identifing, interviewing, and selecting candidates for our Village Council and Schools, Library, and Parks Boards. The work, however, doesn't end after the candidate slates are drafted, nor is the process complete. Once drafted, each slate is presented to the entire Caucus Council for their consideration and approval.
The caucus system was designed to represent the values of our the entire community, as opposed to a few personalities or special interest groups. 64 Caucus representatives come from 18 precincts and represent all walks of life, political philosophies, and values. Presenting the candidate slates to the Caucus Council is an important safeguard in the selection process. After reviewing the candidates' biographies, community involvement, and experience, the Council can then decide if the committees' selections are representative of the values of the entire community. If not, they can vote against a particular slate and approve an alternate candidate.
Even this, however, is not the final step in the candidate selection process. Once the Caucus Council has voted on the candidates, there is a Candidates Forum at which the community can learn more about each candidate, and then the slates are presented to the Village at the Annual Fall Town Meeting for a community vote.
The October 18 Caucus Council meeting is a perfect example of this process in action. After reviewing the candidates presented for Village Council, the Caucus did its homework, reviewed the biographies, and decided that one candidate was not representative of the community at large. After hearing comments from those opposed to and in support of the candidate, a paper ballot was distributed, and the candidate did not receive the majority vote required to remain on the slate. Instead, the Village Candidates Committee's alternate candidate was selected.
That a committee's selection was not approved by the Caucus Council is not a flaw in the system, but a sign that the process works the way it is intended to. Without the safeguard of a Caucus Council vote, our system would be nothing more than a few individuals selecting candidates for the governance of our village; the very thing that the Caucus system is designed to avoid.