Rep. Stewart's Weekly Column: Wrestling and Politics

***Wrestling and Politics***

Congratulations to Dakota’s Maverick McPeek (220 pound class) and Lena-Winslow/Stockton’s Ian Kuehl (285 pound class) for their victories at the IHSA State Wrestling Tournament this last week in Class 1A. I would also like to congratulate Le-Win/Stockton’s Rahveon Valentine (2nd place 170 pounds) and Hunter Luke (4th place 145 pounds), and West Carroll’s Ethan Doty (5th place 120 pounds) for their Class 1A medals; and congratulations to Freeport High School’s Major Dedmond (6th place 170 pounds) for his Class 2A medal.

In team wrestling, the Lena-Winslow/Stockton Pantherhawks advanced to the Sectional match against Aurora Christian on Tuesday. The defending champion Pantherhawks kept it close but it wasn’t enough to overcome Aurora Christian. Congratulations to Coach Milder and the Pantherhawks on their season. We look forward to seeing great things next year from all of our area wrestling teams.

Wrestling is quite possibly mankind’s oldest sport. Early depictions of wrestling appear on millennia-old cave drawings in France, ancient Babylon, and Egypt. It is referenced in religious texts like the Old Testament and the Hindu Vedas. Wrestling became an ancient Olympic sport in Greece, was popular in Rome, and flourished in Western Europe before coming to North America.




Many consider wrestling to be one of the most difficult sports there is. Collegiate and Olympic wrestling legend, Dan Gable, says, “More enduringly than any other sport, wrestling teaches self-control and pride.” Screen actor and former wrestler, Channing Tatum says, “In wrestling, there is no retreat. No way to slow things down. In wrestling, you advance and advance and being tired is just a lie to make the other guy think he can relax. It’s so hard – harder than anything I’ve ever done.”

A wrestling match consists of two people of nearly, if not exactly, equal weight using a series of defined holds and maneuvers to subdue the other. While contemporary wrestling incorporates a series of points to calculate each wrestler’s “score” the ultimate victory is when one wrestler forces the other wrestler onto their back with both shoulders touching the mat at the same time.
Roman emperor and philosopher Marcus Aurelius says, “The art of living is more like wrestling than dancing.” The same can be said of politics in the Land of Lincoln.
 
The Governor introduced his budget last week. The budget is balanced, and requires, among other things, a shift in pension costs from the state to local school districts in equal increments over a four year period.

There are proposals for tools covering the cost of the pension shift, and even providing more savings to school districts and taxpayers in the process. As reported in The Journal Standard, “The tools include increased education funding, the power to dissolve or consolidate units of local government and more flexibility in contracting, bidding and sharing services.”

As we can expect, sides are drawing up, and people are preparing for the whistle to signal  month’s long budget struggle. I believe we can do better than that.

It is easy to say no. It is easy to believe that our challenges are too high to climb, and all we can expect is a cycle of tax and spending increases to fuel the status quo. Instead of explaining why we think an idea won’t work, shouldn’t we ask whether the idea is a good one?

As I’ve written about before, hundreds of constituents have returned and continue to return the legislative survey I mailed out last December. We want education reform, increased funding, and consolidation to improve the effectiveness of our public education system.
Many survey respondents also included comments supporting pension reform. Shouldn’t we as Illinoisans determine whether we think locally funded pensions are a better idea than having them funded through Springfield?

I want to know what you think. Let me know if you would rather we find a way to manage our own local public pensions instead of relying on Springfield. Let me know if you would rather local school districts have the tools to reform our schools instead of waiting for Springfield.

Please let me know your thoughts or ideas on how to reform our government by visiting my website at www.repbrianstewart.com and use the form to send me an e-mail.  Sometimes, transformation needs to start with us.


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