Western Report: Alderman should resign if found guilty of drunk driving charge

Those of you who have read my column know I keep a pretty close watch on the Galena City Council. I hope to also include actions of the Jo Daviess County Board soon as well.

You readers also know that at times, I am critical of some of the workings of the Galena Council. OK, many times I am critical of the officials themselves.

The point is, I feel we have a right to hold our elected officials to a certain standard and to be able to publicly question them or even criticize them at times. There is a line, however, that I always try not to cross. I never write any words that would personally attack the character of an elected official.

I do respect their decision to run for office, and, being a former elected official myself, I also respect their opinions and actions when I believe them to be acting in what they think is the best interest of their constituents.

I also believe that, when they are voted into office, they owe the voters a certain respect and also a respect for their particular office. If they do not believe they are supposed to respect and obey the laws they themselves make, then maybe they just don’t get the whole process. Maybe if and when that happens, it’s time for them to step down or get voted out of office. Many national, state and local incidents come to mind to all of us.

Well, recently (May 20) Galena Ald. Todd Lincoln, 31, was stopped in East Dubuque, Iowa, and charged with one count of driving under the influence of alcohol, and one count of driving under the influence with blood-alcohol levels greater than the legal limit. He has been charged, not convicted.

These are serious charges, just ask Mr. Lincoln himself. Lincoln is a very dedicated fireman, and I am sure he has been at a number of horrible accident scenes where alcohol has been the cause. Drunk driving is an avoidable situation. There is no excuse for it. If you drink too much, save someone’s life—save your own. Don’t get behind the wheel.

If these allegations are true, Todd Lincoln should have known better, and I am sure he would be the first to admit that. He is a good man who may have made a bad decision. But our lives are dictated by the decisions we make, and Lincoln has to understand we do have to answer for our decisions, good or bad.

It was his own choice to run for public office, and he has to understand that there are responsibilities that go with it. As a public official, Lincoln should know he is held to a higher standard. There is no law that says that if he is convicted of the charges he should resign. But maybe that is the case. Maybe he should step down, or maybe the mayor should ask for his resignation.

As a man or as a neighbor, I have no right to judge the actions of Ald. Lincoln. But with Lincoln as an elected official of the city I live in, I certainly can question his judgment and his maturity, and question whether he is capable of upholding the oath he took.

John Huschik is a free-lance writer from Galena and covers the Jo Daviess County political scene.

From the June 21-27, 2006, issue

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