We had our caucus tonight, and I decided that if I ask my members to run for office, I should lead by example. Naperville Township is a township that comprises part of Naperville and part of Aurora; Trustees meet two nights a month. For more on township government in Illinois, the Townships of Illinois website has good info:
Townships in Illinois are charged with three (3) basic functions: (1) general assistance for the indigent; (2) the assessment of real property for the basis of taxation; and (3) maintenance of all roads and bridges outside the federal, state and other jurisdictions (that have been accepted into the township road district system).
Most interesting to me:
Question: What sets township government apart from other forms of government?
Answer: In Illinois, township government is the only form of government that provides the citizens a direct vote. This occurs during a township’s annual township meeting where any registered voter within the township has the right to vote on issues before the body or electors. This is as close to a “pure democracy” as it gets. Voters actually have direct input to their government. No other form of government affords its citizens this opportunity.
I like the idea of direct democracy at the local level; growing up in New England, it appeals to me. Unfortunately, I think citizens generally have a very poor idea of what the township does (versus the city, county and state), and consequently rarely are well-informed when it comes to decisions they have a say in. Readers of this blog will not be at all surprised that one of my focuses will be improving communications between the Township and the citizens, and providing more meaningful feedback mechanisms for citizens. (This includes technology, but isn’t exclusively about technology.)
My candidacy will be certified next week, at which point I’m sure I’ll have more details up. This is a low profile race, and turnout at these local elections is historically low. But my wife and I have grown to love our community, and this felt like a wonderful way to get more actively involved. I’m looking forward to the process.
Update: My website is here.