LWVPR study: Why aren't more people running for Park Ridge City Council?
Too few citizens are running for Park Ridge City Council, resulting in too many uncontested races. In uncontested races, the community does not hear, learn, and benefit from competing ideas and perspectives, and this can lead to stagnation. Currently there is not enough diversity in candidates, which results in a Council that does not represent our community.
● In 2021, 2 of the 3 Wards up for election were uncontested.
● In 2019, 3 of the 4 Wards up for election were uncontested.
● Only 41% of the Aldermanic races were contested between 1999-2019.
● During that same 20-year period, just 20% of the candidates were women.
LWVPR set out to develop a better understanding of why so few Park Ridge residents run for City Council. Through the use of stakeholder surveys, interviews, and background reading, committee members researched best practices and put forth recommended actions to encourage more candidates to run for these offices. Increased participation at the local government level helps nurture a vibrant and robust democracy.
In May of 2023, our members adopted a position statement based on the results of the Rarely Running Study. This position supports measures to expand voter choice in City Council elections, increase citizen interest in running for City Council, and ensure ample opportunity for community members to hear, learn, and benefit from a representative range of perspectives on City policies.
Position on the Expansion of Participation and Choice in City Council Elections:
1. Park Ridge alderpersons should be paid the market rate
2. The City of Park Ridge should continue exploring opportunities to streamline processes and allow alderpersons to work more efficiently
3. The job description for Park Ridge alderpersons should be available to the public
4. Formal training should be held for all new Park Ridge alderpersons, in addition to the mandatory training
5. Citizens should be encouraged to motivate others to run for Park Ridge City Council, and identify ways that they can support mentorship efforts of leaders who may decide to run.
6. LWVPR should include organized educational efforts in our annual program around opportunities to run for Park Ridge City Council and candidate filing
7. Park Ridge citizens should be encouraged to engage in more respectful debate in-person and online
The League of Women Voters is a national organization that seeks to encourage the informed and active participation of citizens in government. The League conducts studies from time to time about matters that its members agree are worthy for study. All studies must be conducted following a uniform process designed to ensure that the study is fair and impartial.
League studies typically last 1-3 years. Studies involve intensive research done by a committee, which includes literature reviews, surveys, interviews, and other forms of research. The study committee then develops consensus questions that they present to the members.
The consensus questions, along with all research and findings, are presented to LWVPR members and is available to the community. If LWVPR membership reaches consensus (substantial agreement), a position is formed. Action can then be taken on the issue addressed by the position.
The League is a nonpartisan organization whose primary goal is to support participation of citizens in government, including running for elected bodies. This Rarely Running study has no interest in who, individually, should run for office or the political affiliation of any future candidate. Our goal is to provide information that might increase the number of Park Ridge citizens who make the decision to run for City Council.