A Republican Endorses A Democrat?
Local politics are a funny thing. Just when you think you know everything about the political process a local election comes around and really makes you contemplate. It puts you to a test of more than just where do my political beliefs stand when it comes to these positions, but it also calls into play friendships and trust in the people holding the office. Ultimately local politics is, has, and will always be a popularity contest.
Nothing brings me more pleasure than seeing one of my former Boy Scouts running for a political office, but what makes me prouder than anything is the fact that he is the Chairman of the Hamilton County Republican Party, making him one of the youngest Chairmen in our state’shistory. Chairman Trenton Butler is a true leader, a man of values, soon to be a Veteran of our nation, and I applaud his accomplishments. That being said, I am writing this oped to endorse my dear friend and current County Clerk, Mary Anne Hopfinger.
Mary Anne Hopfinger has been dedicated to our county since taking office in 2006. It was during Mary Anne’s campaign as County Clerk that I made her aware that Veterans needed someone to be proactive in helping them register and reminding them that elections are coming upso that we can take part in what we are fighting to protect.Since Mary Anne came into office absentee and early voting have both greatly increased. She is dedicated to her job, her office, and this county.
While campaign slogans are good and catchy, not all campaign slogans fit the need for the office being filled. “Make Elections Fair Again” might hold a certain place in National politics but when you are talking about someone like County Clerk Mary Anne Hopfinger they do not hold a true and steady course. Mary Anne Hopfinger has ran a professional office, goes out of her way to contract with the best companies to make sure
elections go smoothly, consults with an IT firm to ensure there is no loss with connectivity, and has worked to digitize our records that are being held in the vault. Mary Anne Hopfinger is right for our county, cares about the community that she serves, and she is exactly who we need in office currently.
While I am not endorsing Chairman Butler at this time for Hamilton County Clerk, I want to applaud him for what he is dedicated to accomplishing as the leader of the Republican Party in our county. Chairman Butler has made a goal to run candidates against incumbents, in as many races as possible, and I can’t tell you how happy this makes me. Nothing makes me more upset than seeing a blank ballot, or only 1 person running for an office. If you are a Republican from Hamilton county you should be proud of the work Chairman Butler is doing, but don’t be too proud because you should also be ashamed of yourselves for making him pick up the slack to carry the entire party on his back.
I feel Chairman Butler is the future of the Republican Party for Hamilton County, but he cannot do this job alone. Our Chairman needs to be focused on finding more candidates to run for positions on the ballot in the county and help state and federal candidates get elected. The Chairman should not be forced to put his own name on a ballot when he has already won an election and been voted by the party to become its Chairman. For too long Republicans in Southern Illinois have been a minority party and have had very little representation. We do not need to be focused on whether the Sheriff of Hamilton County is a Republican or Democrat, we shouldn’t be worried whether the circuit clerk, treasurer, or other offices located in the court house are Republican or Democrat, we should be worried about filling the ballot with quality candidates.
If we want to make elections fair again then we need the citizens of our county to go out and vote. We have one of the lowest voter turnout rates in the state, and frankly it makes me feel angry when people complain about the politicians in town, and when you ask if they voted, they say no. I wish every party had someone like Mary Anne Hopfinger in it, someone who is not afraid to talk with Republicans and Democrats, someone who will engage in conversations with members from both sides, and work with them no matter what party affiliation they align with.
Maybe I am a little bias because over the years we have formed such a strong friendship, but when I think of Mary Anne Hopfinger I think of integrity, and that is not something you use with just one friendship or another, integrity is what you do when no one is looking. County Clerk Mary Anne Hopfinger does right by our citizens whether you are looking or not, whether you are voting or not. I challenge anyone running for local office to publicly state why the person you are running against isn’t doing a good job. I also challenge you to tell us what you would do in order to do a better job than the person filling the position now.
I applaud Chairman Butler again, because I think he is very well intentioned, but I think when running for County Clerk he is in the wrong. He shouldn’t be focused on running for County Clerk just because we need aRepublican in the office, he should be focused on being Chairman of our party and getting our party active. I have a lot of faith in the future of our party under his leadership, but we cannot rely on Chairman Butler to do it alone, we need everyone that considers themselves to be a Republican to step up. I am willing to help him with whatever he needs, if he still wants it after reading this letter.
I have served in countries where elections are not a right of the people, where people are murdered for their political views, but what angers me more than anything is knowing that the county that I love, and that city that I grew up in has one of the lowest voters turn outs in the entire state. I hope to see that change and to work with Republican Chairman Trenton Butler and Hamilton County Clerk Mary Anne Hopfinger to ensure change in the future.
Michael Little is a McLeansboro Native, Navy Reservist, Coast Guard Spouse, and Lifelong Republican. He has both won and lost elections, worked for winning and losing campaigns, worked with members of Congress, Assembly, and World Leaders. His views are his own, and do not reflect that of his company, non-profit, or affiliated organizations. Michael is a Combat Disabled Navy Veteran, who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan.