Michael Ziri is the District 1 Democratic candidate for the Springfield Metropolitan Exposition and Auditorium Authority (SMEAA). SMEAA administers the Prairie Capital Convention Center in downtown Springfield.
Mr. Ziri is a new face to Springfield politics and off to a good start. On January 29, 2007, he filed 144 petition signatures to qualify for the Consolidated Election ballot on April 17, 2007. The requirement is 50.
With the filing of these signatures, I pledge to be a citizens' advocate on the SMEAA board.He is currently a shift manager at a McDonald’s restaurant and a graduate student taking a break until the Fall semester. He is interested in the graduate and doctorate programs at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and the University of Illinois Springfield. Adding a monthly meeting to his rigorous schedule would not be a problem for him. On the contrary, absenteeism is a campaign issue:
[. . .] voters in the district pick three people to fill the three board seats that represent the district. Two of the incumbents are quitting while the third – Casper – filed last Tuesday. I filed last Monday at 8:30 a.m. along with another candidate, so our names are going in a lottery to determine who goes on the top of the District 1 ballot.
The convention center board meets once a month which is why absenteeism is such an issue. Don Casper, an incumbent in my district, missed half of the meetings since 2005. With once-a-month meetings, I'm sure you understand why missing meetings is a problem.As a candidate, he is vigorous, not beholding to anyone’s substantial campaign generosity, and very unhappy with the recent shenanigans surrounding the Abraham Lincoln Hotel, un-democratic board actions, well-connected political insiders, and years of taxpayer abuse. To Mr. Ziri, more than enough evidence that business as usual needs to change:
As the recent financial situation surrounding the Abraham Lincoln Hotel and Conference Center evidences, there is a need for fiscal responsibility, board accountability, and citizen participation on local governing boards like SMEAA.Mr. Ziri feels completely qualified for this elected position:
I will pursue that responsibility, accountability, and participation. My only interest here is the public interest. I will make this race vigorous and open. Throughout the campaign, I will be unveiling my ideas on how the SMEAA board can reinvigorate The Center.
This year, about half of the city council will be freshman aldermen and -women (hopefully!) thanks to term limits. My campaign has received wholly positive response from the voters who I have met while going door-to-door and some limited supported from party bigwigs who are understandably focusing on aldermanic success. Plus, I've garnered some free media attention due to a press release about my opinions on the hotel foreclosure situation (more information is available at my website). Bernie Schoenburg wrote a good piece in the SJ-R and the local TV station interviewed me twice in two weeks. No other SMEAA candidate has this success with free media.Although he is new to politics, Mr. Ziri does have some campaign experience. His efforts on the Troops Home referendum resulted in 60 percent of the city vote and passed 45 of the 47 precincts in the convention center district. Therefore, his campaign will concentrate on that referendum in addition to his youth, and desire for open government. He also agrees with the positions John Edwards has taken and the language he has used regarding the war in Iraq and poverty.
Mr. Ziri invites comments and suggestions from everyone. He wants to hear what people would like changed, added, or kept the same with The Center. Please send all ideas to email@example.com and check out his website for more information.