Campaign 2010

Oct 01, 2008

Ozinga avoiding forum a missed step forward


The Southtown Star 

September 26, 2008


Thursday morning would have been a perfect day to hold a congressional candidate's feet to the fire. With our nation's financial system teetering, angry workers seeking justice and investors worried about the next big crash, residents of the 11th Congressional District were ready for some answers at a forum scheduled for that morning.

That's why voters are the ones particularly hurt by the cancellation of the event featuring Republican Martin Ozinga, of Homer Glen; his Democratic opponent, state Sen. Debbie Halvorson, of Crete; and Green Party candidate Jason Wallace, of Normal.

It's a critically important race at a critically important time.

Voters don't need spin, they don't need hype. They need to hear directly from the candidates on the issues that really matter.

Ozinga, however, decided the move was too risky and pulled out of the forum planned by the Chicago Southland Chamber at the 11th hour, claiming the event was "nothing more than a pep rally" for Halvorson.

The real issue behind it all?

We're still not so sure.

His staffers spent last week finding fault with the event, and finally suggested the sponsor, the format, the location and the choice of moderator (the SouthtownStar's political writer, Kristen McQueary) were all part of an orchestrated attack.

Once again, that means the issues are off the table, and political mudslinging is the order of the day.

Attempting to sully, in one big stroke, the Southland Chamber, Governors State University and the SouthtownStar ---three of the biggest players in the Southland landscape - shows more than a big whiff of worry from the Ozinga camp.

While they lost a chance to get out a message on the issues, they did send voters a different sort of one: There's a bit of paranoia here.

We could belabor this, right here and now. Frankly, though, we're not going to let them pull us into the mire.

We at the SouthtownStar were looking forward to helping facilitate - and report - a fair exchange among the candidates that would help you, our readers, better understand the views of those who want your vote (that, after all, is one of our essential roles).

Instead, we've spent the last two days writing about Ozinga's perception that the world is out to get him.

There are big problems facing Illinois and this nation.

Ozinga missed a big opportunity to step forward and show he's not afraid.

Voters deserved far better.