When we heard the news this morning that Ninth District Aldermanic Challenger Ray Harmon LOST his bid to unseat incumbent Robert Puente, we were shocked!
We believed–given Puente’s inactivity in the office and seeming lack of concern for his constituents (especially African Americans), and the problems of unemployment, lack of business development and crime in his district, we would have come out in droves and voted for Harmon, an African American with a vast amount of experience in the public and private sectors who has an equally compelling human interest story as a heart transplant recipient.
But Puente was the one who pulled the upset, beating Harmon by 639 votes. Six hundred, thirty-nine votes. If that number of our people–doubled–living in the district came out on Tuesday and exercised the most precious gift an individual living in a democracy can have, the right to vote, we believe Harmon would have defeated Puente.
Unfortunately, the Harmon loss is another example of what happens when we don’t exercise our gift, a gift thousands marched and died to attain during the 1950s an 60s culminating in the Voting Rights Act. We had hoped after the 2010 elections that saw a paradigm shift in state political ideology, laws (especially a law that has impacted our ability to vote) and public service funding that has devastated our city and county, the community would have realized their power to affect change rests with the ballot box. Apparently not.
That’s sad. We can only hope and pray those who did not vote this time out will have an epiphany and come to the realization that if they want change in government and in their lives, they must vote and urge others to do the same.
To do otherwise will invite more upsets.