Budget.2015Published as an op-ed in the Desplaines Valley News, by Senator Steven Landek:

In the middle of a heated political election, sometimes, people miss the obvious. But this past week, Argo High School was center stage in a historic moment for the southwest suburbs when Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders came there to speak at a pre-election rally.

Regardless of the election results, by coming here, Sanders has recognized our importance as a community.

And while rallies held in other locations experienced turmoil, conflict and even physical altercations, the rally at Argo High School served as a role model for how politics can and should be conducted.

The Village of Summit and Argo High School especially should be commended for the quick work needed to co-ordinate with the Sanders campaign and the Secret Service to pull off a flawless and nonviolent rally.

Supt. Dr. Kevin O’Mara and the District 217 Board of Education members recognized the importance of this moment in our election history and the symbolism it would become. They opened the doors of the high school to a real life example of how democracy should work and why our cherished process is so important.

As I worked with Dr. O’Mara over the short 48-hour window we had to put this together, we both could feel the excitement and the enthusiasm of everyone in attendance at the school, and the positive passion Bernie supporters shared.

The fact that the Southwest Side is considered a fertile place for political activism is a great compliment to the hard work of the many people involved for years in the process. But consider all the places Senator Sanders could go to hold a rally and you will realize the importance of our area. This experience far transcends our traditional role in education. This is the political laboratory coming to Summit for us to see it firsthand. I was pleased to meet so many members of the school staff, from the government teacher, to assistant principals all involved and excited for this opportunity.

This type of event happens sometimes once in a lifetime. The last presidential candidate to visit our area was Richard Nixon in the late 1960s when he made a stop in the Bridgeview and Oak Lawn area.

Nearly 60 years later, the southwest suburbs had a chance to be a direct part of the presidential election. Teachers, administrators, students and residents from many communities all got involved to make the rally a huge success. The desire to vote is sometimes based on these one-time experiences. How many times have we heard of people driven to a political frenzy when President Kennedy first ran? Hopefully, the 8,000 people who attended Friday’s rally will remember this moment and be as passionate about the process for decades to come.

The politics of this presidential election season is important, but the real reward was how one of the nation’s leading candidates for president felt it important to come to our community in the southwest suburbs and show his respect.

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