Gentlemen, stop it! This has gone on long enough.

Oak Park has prospered over the past half-century because at one moment its leaders rose above the mainstream of politics to do what was right. It’s time to do it again. Remember Oak Park’s reputation for being progressive, open, welcoming? It didn’t happen accidentally. It doesn’t last without constant reinforcement. Remember when the village said block-busting and red-lining were wrong, and “open housing” was right, and stopped “white flight,” invested in its schools and public institutions and became a magnet that attracted people who believed in a different kind of politics, a different kind of life? Remember when we believed we didn’t have local political parties?

Citizens of Oak Park, remember when we were proud to say we were from a community that was really different? What did you let happen?

Remember, our history over the last half of the 20th century was dictated by a few good decisions. Are we going to let the first half of the 21st be dictated by a few mean-spirited elected officials determined to make us the laughingstock of Illinois?

Robert Milstein, stop it!

You ran for village board president. Wednesday Journal endorsed you. Bob, you lost. You’re not running for office now?#34;or maybe you are, maybe that’s the problem. Maybe you never realized you won the election, that you’re an elected official, that when you speak, people outside Oak Park don’t realize you’re still campaigning. You speak for all of us. Others may believe you have proof when you make accusations. As a political candidate, you can get away with snide remarks and innuendo “in the heat of battle.” An elected official is expected to tell the truth, to be something more than a candidate. If you believe there is wrongdoing in village hall, investigate, file charges. Otherwise, stop it!

Bob Kane, stop it! Tom Ard and Tom Broderick, Jo Ellen Davey-Cohen, stop it! Judy Erickson, Bernell Loeb, Ray Muccianti, stop it! Terrie Rymer, Julie Samuels, Frank Vozak, Erin Inselberger, stop it!

People, the campaign is over. We have an elected village board. There are a lot of people in Oak Park who believe they could do a better job of running things. Maybe that’s part of the beauty of this town?#34;we all believe we could do a better job of running things. But now is not the time.

Our village manager is leaving. Someone has to take his place. To find the best candidate, Oak Park needs effective, clear-headed, reasonable evaluation. The new manager is going to need support from everyone involved with the village. I know conflict gets your name in the paper, maybe even your picture. Conflict builds political campaigns. Conflict attracts political donations. But when level-headed decisions are needed, a quiet time usually helps.

Citizens of Oak Park, this is a critical time. Watch. Listen. Remember. Once again we must decide what kind of village we want to live in.

And, oh yes, next election … it might help if we all actually get out and vote!

Samuel W. Harnish, Jr.
Oak Park

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