I, like many Illinois residents, have complained about the corruption that is rampant in our State over a beer with friends or on facebook but a couple of days ago I decided to see what was going on for myself.
I had never volunteered to help any candidate for any office in my life. I am an Army Veteran and a former criminal investigator and love my country so I make sure to vote in every election but that was about as far as I have ever gone.
This was different. I remember seeing the news reports about David Krupa and thinking wow! Instead of just complaining about Mike Madigan and machine politics this 19-year-old (the same age I was when I joined the military) is doing something about it in a big way. It is a real David Krupa and Goliath story only this Goliath holds much more power.
I had also heard about the shady and criminal tactics that campaign representatives for Marty Quinn had used when they showed up with over 2,700 signatures of 13th ward residents who wished to revoke their signatures supporting Krupa. Why criminal? Well, let's just say that less than 200 of the signatures were actually of voters who signed Krupa's petitions. You do the math.
I had also read that Krupa has filed a recent suit because he has received death threats.
I felt like I couldn't just sit back and simply complain any more and so I showed up at Krupa's Volunteer Day this past Saturday which started at his 13th Ward campaign office on 63rd Street.
I was struck immediately by the ages and excitement of Krupa's team. They all seemed to be barely 20 somethings but they were all smiling and all very positive. There were probably only two old fogies who were over 50, me and another equally excited Hispanic gentleman.
I had an opportunity to meet David and speak with him and his staff and volunteers for about an hour before we set out and they were all extremely grateful for the volunteers.
We were briefed about what we were going to do as far as handing out door hangers, letting residents know that they had a choice this election, asking permission to place yard signs and asking residents if they had any concerns regarding the ward. They were very cautious that everyone knew what the rules were.
Armed with door hangers, flyers, business cards and clipboards we went out in groups of three. I have to say that I was pretty much expecting to just have door after door slammed in my face but I was actually pleasantly surprised. While many were not home or answering the door the ones that did were very receptive. They actually seemed surprised and pleased that there was another option on the ballot. Even people that had Quinn signs opened their door and they were pleasant. It did strike me as troubling when a couple of Quinn sign houses told me they don't put signs in their yard. I asked them about the Quinn sign and they looked puzzled and told me to take the sign away. I told them that they could remove the sign if they want but I wasn't going to touch it.
I was worried but not surprised by one resident's response. She was very pleasant and said that she would definitely vote for Krupa but when I asked her if she would put a Krupa sign in her yard she leaned out, looked both ways down the street and then whispered to me that she couldn't because she was told that if she put a Krupa sign in her yard that bad things would happen. She would not elaborate on who told her that or what the "bad things" might be. I just smiled and told her I understood and that we looked forward to her vote.
At one point we came across a couple of people who had clipboards and had Quinn pamphlets and were going up to the doors that we had just gone to which was fine because it is a campaign after all. It was the tone and look on the face of one of the guys as he walked past me. He did not smile or even look me in the eye but said, "You be careful out there". I just smiled and he didn't. Now I am sure that he was just concerned about my safety as far as slipping on the ice and all and really appreciate his kindness. Come on dude, I was a cop. You are definitely going to have to try harder than that to be threatening.
I was also told by some of the other volunteers that they had approached some of the businesses on the block and many of the owners seemed very supportive and actually said they were considering voting for Krupa but would not support Krupa publicly because they were afraid of repercussions if Krupa didn't win.
Three hours later I had to leave but really enjoyed my time volunteering with the Krupa camp. I enjoyed the conversation with residents and it was obvious that the long-time machine has many people afraid not to vote for them. If I had to guess based on people's reactions and comments, I would say that Krupa has a fighting chance. I can't vote for Krupa myself, I don't even live in the city of Chicago but I will put a sign in my yard which will confuse my neighbors because Krupa has given me and other Illinoisans some hope.
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