Sunday, December 11, 2005

Duckworth's Residency is an Issue

Update 12/18/05: From Archpundit:
She moved to Dekalb 15 years ago and then has been in Hoffman Estates for three years.

This really bothers me. I had given her at least 10 years in the area, but it's only the last three?! Residency is an issue./Update

I've now seen several comments in the Blogosphere and quotes from local sources that emphasize Duckworth's lack of residency in IL-06 as an issue. I agree that Duckworth's residency is an issue. But not regarding where her home in Hoffman Estates rests. Although I think it is really stupid that the law allows anyone to run for any district in the state regardless of where they live, notable candidates like Melissa Bean and Gov. Blago lived outside districts they represented. Dumb law. But the law.

No, Duckworth's residency issue for me is that she has not had any real life experience anywhere near the district, let alone Chicago, let alone Illinois. It's one thing to live out of the district. It's another for a candidate to have spent the majority of her life on a tropical island yet running to represent a Chicago area district.

The life experiences, first hand knowledge of resident issues, understanding of differing economic issues, and a slew of other factors combine here to make Duckworth a weaker candidate who is less likely to represent district residents effectively. This lack of effective representation doesn't even begin to factor in how Emanuel has bought and paid for her campaign and the strings that will include.

The 36-year old Duckworth grew up in Hawaii. Of course, not growing up in frigid Chicagoland does not disqualify one from serving here in Illinois. But it does limit a candidate's ability to understand what district residents take for granted having lived here for decades. This in my opinion limits the efficacy of Duckworth's ability to represent my district. Some background from Sweet at the Sun Times:
As a teen, Duckworth lived in Hawaii; she has an undergraduate degree from the University of Hawaii and a master's degree in international affairs from George Washington University. She landed in Illinois as a doctoral student at Northern Illinois University.

So let's say Duckworth is a good student, graduated from college with her undergrad at 22 and had her masters by 24. That's two-thirds of her life spent no where near Illinois, but primarily on a tropical island that bases it's economy, lifestyle, recreation, and culture on little or nothing District Six residents do.

Next comes a doctoral program at NIU which puts her in Illinois, but in DeKalb. For those unaware, DeKalb is very rural, is at least an hour way outside IL-06, and does not have much in common with DuPage county other than being in Illinois. This puts Duckworth on a very educated path, which I find laudable, but still no where near my district.

Back to Sweet:
Duckworth joined the ROTC as a graduate student in 1991 and was commissioned in the reserves the next year, becoming a part of the Illinois Army National Guard in 1996. Before deployment to Iraq, Duckworth was a staff supervisor at Rotary International headquarters in Evanston.

This is a great military record, and again laudable for someone to have served our country and my state. But taking a hard look past the 'war hero' narrative that Emanuel's publicist is pushing, this again shows how even when in Illinois, Duckworth has had little in common with residents of IL-06.

She was a commissioned officer in the National Guard, a job that bears little similarity to the daily work routine of district residents. Again, this is not to fault Duckworth for her service. On the contrary, her service is admirable. But let's be honest. Her service also kept her from integrating into the district in ways local candidates like Cegelis and Scott have. DuPage does not revolve around a military installation the way some communities do. Duckworth did not raise children in the district. She was not employed by small businesses in the district. She did not start a business in the district.

She was a government employee, in the military no less - a very different reality from the overwhelming majority of residents in DuPage. Even as a staff supervisor, she worked in Evanston - a North Shore affluent community that might as well be on the other side of the globe when compared to blue collar District Six. Once again, Duckworth's is an admirable bio, but one that shares little commonality with district residents and hampers her ability to represent them accurately.

Duckworth's residency for me is an issue. It is not as important an issue as her stance on the war or other issues key to district residents. But intimate understanding of district life is the foundation from which a candidate will vote. I want to know how my representative will vote. When there is a candidate like Cegelis, who has lived in the district for more than two decades, raised children in the district, worked and started a small business in the district, and campaigned in the district for two years, I feel comfortable knowing how Cegelis will vote.

I don't have that same comfort with Duckworth. And seeing that Rahm's publicist is pushing nothing but Duckworth's 'war hero' narrative, I don't see the issues that are important to me as being more important to Duckworth than getting elected.