Tuesday, May 09, 2006

COMMENTARY - A Letter to State Senator Gary Dahl

by Todd Kuzma

Dear Senator Dahl,

You recently wrote a newspaper letter to the editor in which you complained that, “once again Republican lawmakers in the House and the Senate have been entirely removed from the budget discussions.” Welcome to Illinois politics!

Unfortunately, Illinois is one of the most partisan states in the nation. Democrats currently control Springfield and shut Republicans out of the decision-making process. When Republicans were in control, they did likewise. If you have any doubts that this was the case, just ask any Democrat in Springfield what it was like to work with former Senate President Pate Phillip. Of course, it was wrong then, and it is wrong now.

History has shown us that our greatest legislators have been those who can rise above partisanship and work with colleagues across the aisle. Illinois needs such leaders right now. A look at your press clippings since taking office shows that you are often blaming Democrats for various state problems. Such finger-pointing and name-calling does little except to divide the state further. It decreases the chances that Democrats and Republicans can ever work together to serve the people of Illinois.

Your 38th Senate district is also represented by two House members, Careen Gordon and Frank Mautino. Both are Democrats. To best serve this district, the three of you will need to work together. Hopefully, professionalism will win out over petty party politics. This, of course, requires true leadership. Sometimes, it is necessary to forgo the short-term political gain in order to effect the long-term good. Will you show Illinois that you are such a leader? Can you rise above the fray and work to bring us all together? Or will history show you as just one more of the numerous party hacks who toiled away to beat down the other guy and further divide the state?

I invite you to respond, Senator. You can e-mail me at todd@kuzma.com with any comments, and I will post them here, unedited, as a separate blog entry. I hope to hear from you soon.

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