There are many elements to a great concession speech such as graciousness, congratulations to opponents, calls for unity, appeals for common ground, language which heals, pride, bridges which move us forward and thanks to all who worked hard on either side to elect their candidates.

It is unfortunate the community did not experience more of what should be in a great concession speech from several losing candidates after the April 5 elections.

But putting aside the past for a moment, I continue to remain focused on our positive future. I have been reaching out to the newly elected officials of the village board, and it is a pleasure to report that each and every person who will be joining the board has reciprocated with kindness and graciousness as we seek common ground, work to mend any fences and offer more than just hope for our work ahead, but a real commitment to seek ways to make Oak Park even better than I believe it is.

As we move beyond election rhetoric, a pledge can and should be made amongst us all to heal wounds with grace and candor. A pledge can and should be made that we will focus on policy discussions, not personalities. I pledge to remain focused on the challenges and opportunities before us and have not lost faith in our board’s ability to work together, no matter our party or association.

So to all who ran for public office, I offer a paraphrased quote from Senator John Kerry’s presidential concession speech, “In an Oak Park election, there are no losers because whether or not our individual candidates were successful, the next morning, we all wake up Oak Parkers.”

As a proud Oak Parker, I urge everyone to bring your hands and hearts together again so we continue to make Oak Park the best place it can possibly be. And to that end, an appeal for hope and optimism will continue to move us forward, but a real commitment to teamwork and partnership will lead us forward.

I again applaud the victors, all who worked on any campaign, and the citizens of Oak Park, for allowing the democratic appeal to continue. And to those who were not successful in an election, your voice, along with any citizen’s voice, must continue to be part of the Oak Park chorus of ideals, so that elected officials continue to make the most informed decisions possible.

Ray Johnson
trustee, Village of Oak Park

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