Letter to the Editor: How Did Burns/Lauzen Race Get to Be So Nasty?

Journalism major and Geneva Patch contributor Tara Knott asks why a primary race between two nice guys had to get so low.

To the Editor:

Hi, boss!

I know I’m completely unqualified to write this letter to you, but I’ve been monitoring this Kane County Board chairman race all the way from Nashville, and I have a question for you.

In the interest of full disclosure for readers who don’t know,, but I grew up in Geneva, and I honed my reporting skills interviewing both of the candidates in this race.

During my senior year at , I was a student correspondent at The Beacon News (also under your supervision, Rick, though I’m sure I wasn’t on your radar screen then!) For one of my first articles, I covered a city meeting where state Sen. Lauzen spoke against opening a controversial business in town.

Politics aside, I was so impressed by his skills as a public speaker. He seemed like a trustworthy, passionate, all-around nice guy who genuinely wanted the best for his constituency.

This summer, while I was working on Patch’s series with Garrett Lance, I met Mayor Kevin Burns for the first time. Once again, politics aside, I was impressed with the ease and good-natured humor he showed as he answered our questions. He seemed like a trustworthy, passionate, all-around nice guy who genuinely wanted the best for his constituency.

Which brings me to my question.

Why has this campaign between two nice guys turned so mean?

Take the article you posted on Feb. 22 about . Does either candidate look good after a political move like this? Sure, Mayor Burns and his staff look like bullies for picking on Lauzen and possibly misusing a taxpayer-funded e-mail address. But to me, the Lauzen campaign looks petty for calling Burns out on his “schoolyard fight” level comments.

And Burns’ campaign posted the exact same day. The mayor held his own press conference a day before, slamming Lauzen’s character and alleging he was misappropriating campaign funds. He even tagged Lauzen with the scarlet letter of Republican politics when he said, “I think President Barack Obama would be proud to have Chris on his program.”

While this does make me question Lauzen’s policies, it also makes me question Burns’ sanity if he honestly thinks President Obama would be excited to work with a Republican backed by the Tea Party.

Call me an idealist (because I am), but shouldn’t a successful political campaign be about building yourself up instead of knocking your opponent down?

Come on, Mayor Burns and Sen. Lauzen! You’re both better than this muckraking, mud-slinging campaign. I know you are.

At this rate, Kane County residents will cast their votes on Election Day for the candidate they believe is “less bad.”

And in that situation, no matter who comes out on top, nobody wins.

“The hardest thing about any political campaign is how to win without proving that you are unworthy of winning.” —Adlai E. Stevenson


Tara Knott
Belmont University in Nashville, TN

Sandy Kaczmarski February 24, 2012 at 01:16 PM
Very nicely done, Tara! Especially like Stevenson's quote.
Ed Weiss February 24, 2012 at 04:05 PM
I hope they both read your very well said comments. Unfortunately, polls should negative stuff works. Just look at the current Republican presidential primary to see how it works. Is this what our whole election process has come to? Pathetic!!
Dennis C. Ryan February 25, 2012 at 02:06 PM
Zahm had to bring this to the fore himself because the press is often too lazy to dig for anything. I studied journalism in college. Many of my liberal classmates intended to be reporters because they "wanted to change the world." The job of the press is not to change the world. It's to dig for the facts, inform the readers, and to follow up until all the facts, or as many as possible, are exposed. I find it funny when a newspaper raves of the need for "honest government" but endorses Rod Blagojevic for governor, and Todd Stroger for President of the Cook County Board, as the Chicago Sun-Times did.


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