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posted: 4/21/2019 1:00 AM

Ticked about politics? Change begins now

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If you're one of the apparently many people unhappy about the way our political leaders are leading, what are you going to do to, hopefully, find some election happiness?

Well, the next election-in isn't that far away: November 2020, which, says Barrington's Patrick Watson, makes now "a prime time to get involved."

Political candidates and organizations "are planning, building, getting organized now" for the 2020 campaign, Watson says.

He knows. Watson is Democratic State Central Committeeman in Illinois' 6th Congressional District. "There are a number of ways for a small-business owner to get involved," Watson says:

• Become informed about both the process and the issues. How? Attend local meetings -- i.e., the village board or city council; the school board; the county board.

• Talk to local office holders. Listen and learn.

• Seek appointment to an appropriate local commission. Typically appointed rather than elected positions, commission service can be a good entry point if you offer an expertise that fits.

• Run for a local office. Those elections -- city council, for example -- normally are nonpartisan.

• If you think Springfield is where you should be, or Congress, or a regional board, you should get involved with a party organization, Watson says.

Getting involved may be easier than you think. Tom Morrison, a Palatine Republican who represents the 54th District in the Illinois General Assembly, notes that the issue which will bring you to political involvement won't necessarily involve your business.

"There are various issue groups" whose activity may match your nonbusiness concerns, says Morrison, who also suggests exploring opportunities in various chambers of commerce, nearly all of which have some type of political advocacy activity.

Karen Lennon, a politically savvy entrepreneur, has her own suggestions for involvement:

• "Think about who you know," she says. "Look for friends of friends who may be involved -- perhaps running for office themselves -- and explore ways you might help."

• Get involved in trade associations that advocate on the issues that affect your business.

• Write a check, because even a small check is important.

Lennon is president of Wessex 504 Corporation, a Northfield-based SBA certified development company that works with participating banks to provide low-cost loans to qualifying small businesses. (So you know, Wessex 504 Corporation is a client of my business.)

Your first involvement likely won't be glamorous. You may be asked to make phone calls, write postcards or canvas neighborhoods in support of a candidate or issue.

"But if you care enough about the issue ..." says Gretchen Coleman.

She's our youngest granddaughter, now a political science major at Syracuse (NY) University but a year ago an organizer of a northwest suburban gun safety rally that drew 1,000 participants to Schaumburg on a bitterly cold day.

Gretchen has helped run campaigns on the local and Congressional level, and she knows what canvassing is about. The point: Our then high school granddaughter and her friends got involved and made a difference.

If you want change, "You have to get involved," Watson says. "Write letters. Go to coffees. Do fundraisers. A lot of change begins now."

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