by Rhonda Sherrod, J.D., Ph.D.

On this past Wednesday, October 3rd, I had the pleasure of watching the presidential debate at the Quinn Center at St. Eulalia Parish.  It was my first time, in all these years, stepping foot into the parish on Ninth Avenue and Bataan Drive. That is true even though, many years ago, one of my cousins was educated at St. Eulalia.

It was a very enjoyable evening as my friend, Liddell Lacy, another longtime Maywoodian, and I watched the debate with complete strangers.  It had been Liddell’s idea to ask churches in Maywood to hold screenings for their congregants so that we could watch the presidential debates as a collective community.  The ultimate goal is to start generating keen interest in some of the local issues that beset Maywood in anticipation of the upcoming 2013 local elections.  We want to have a very engaged and knowledgeable electorate, so that people can make very informed choices when we cast our votes.  After all, people bled, were maimed, and died so that we can participate in all elections, not just federal elections.  More to the point, as former Speaker of the House, Tip O’Neill, once cogently stated, “All politics is local.”

If we want good leadership and positive change in this village, then we need to identify willing people who embody the qualities and characteristics we consider important.  Then we should insist that they articulate their vision, plans, and strategies during a series of local public debates, and, unless they are found to be wanting, vote them into municipal, county, township, and state offices.  If we want resources to flow into our village so that we can rebuild it, we need public servants who are not afraid to do their jobs — officials who will govern transparently so that we, the people, can work with them and demand the things we need in our neighborhoods and schools.

Although Liddell was unable to connect with all the churches, some of the churches he contacted expressed genuine interest.  However, because of time constraints and other issues, only one, St. Eulalia, actually made the idea come to fruition while working with Liddell.  Gabriel Lara, the Director of the Quinn Center, has also committed to hosting viewings for each one of the next national debates.  We are hoping to have more churches, as well as our senior citizens homes, involved during the next two presidential debates. (Meanwhile, all of Maywood is invited to watch the vice-presidential debate with us this Thursday, October 11th, at St. Eulalia.  Although the debate begins at 8:00 pm, you are welcome to come at 7pm to watch some of the pre-debate coverage.  We would love for you to stay afterwards and join in on the discussion about what we need to do in Maywood to upgrade the standard of living in the village.  Or, you can come to the parish after watching the debate at home — and bring some other residents with you!)

The other viewers at St. Eulalia last Wednesday were very concerned about Maywood.  They were absolutely delightful.  Moreover, a very serious, informative, high-level discussion about local issues unfolded after the national debate.  I was so pleased to find, yet again, that there are good people all over who are sincerely concerned about this village.  I am hoping that Liddell will be able to get other church participation for the next presidential debates.

(Once again, you are invited to come to St. Eulalia for the next two presidential debates (that location is set); or, you should be on the lookout for information about screenings at other churches, if you would like to participate in those anticipated public viewings.)