The Watch | Politics 2020



Despite a shiny new year — new decade even! — many of us despair at the prospect of Election Year 2020.

Don’t give up just yet.

Ask and you may receive, even from your elected officials.

For example, Jim and Joyce Grimm wanted to visit the White House while they were in Washington, D.C. last summer. They called in advance to their U.S. Representative, Darin LaHood, and expected tickets through LaHood’s office.

They did not expect their Congressman in person.

“He met us at the entrance to the White House and spent 45 minutes with us before he had to attend another breakfast meeting,” said Jim Grimm. “We had to wait in line a long time to get into the White House and he stayed right with us until we went in.”

I am disappointed in Darin LaHood’s failure to combat the crazy in Washington, D.C. On the other hand, who can? And a Congressman does more than politick and campaign. A Congressman provides constituent service, as well.

You don’t get constituent service by griping to your TV about it. You have to ask, and people do.

“Congressman LaHood receives thousands of calls and letters each year from across the 18th District, and our office takes each concern or question seriously and provides a response to every inquiry,” said LaHood Communications Director John Rauber. “We have 15 members on staff spread across five offices, one in Washington, D.C. and four in Illinois, including Peoria, Springfield, Jacksonville, and Bloomington.”

Note to yourself: Interceding for constituents means help with Social Security or Medicare, military benefits or records —a recent case meant a veteran got his Purple Heart — Internal Revenue Service woes and immigration cases. Or a visitor’s pass.

U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos also has multiple offices — Peoria, Rock Island, Rockford and Washington, D.C. — which help the people in the 17th Congressional district.

“Congresswoman Bustos’ office offers a variety of services to constituents, whether individuals need assistance with a federal agency, are seeking federal grant assistance, would like to order a flag, or would like to request tours and tickets for a visit to Washington, D.C.,” said Press Secretary Sean Sibley. “Additional services can include help applying to a military academy, assistance locating military medals or organizing a book delivery from the Library of Congress.”

That’s federal. But decades of reporting in Central Illinois have provided a panoramic view of state and local offices which do their own first-rate advocacy. You might vow to turn down the tube when the gasbags get going in 2020, but expect service. If you don’t get it, do some squawking of your own.

Make a call. Write a letter. Attend a debate or candidate forum. Join an advocacy group.

The League of Women Voters of Greater Peoria is a non-partisan group which promotes voting, voter’s rights and access to factual information about local government. Dwindling numbers of reporters have prompted it to step up the efforts of local government observers, who attend public meetings and publish their reports.

Through its website you could learn a little more about the Peoria County Election Commission, which is looking into a new ballot scanning/sorting system, or the Peoria County Board, which recently extended the contract for recruiting a new administrator at Heddington Oaks.

A rundown of the Nov. 19 meeting of the Springdale Cemetery Authority includes some details about a new CloudPoint Mapping effort, progress on a savannah on cemetery grounds, donations, new staff and and upcoming OLLI tour.
For more information — to to volunteer — check

Many of us fear the political game is out of our control. But it’s not all bad and it’s not all over yet. Resolve to step up your own game in 2020.

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