With two months remaining to file petitions for next spring’s local elections, I wanted all Oak Parkers — including those thinking of running for office — to know that I will not be seeking a third term as an Oak Park village trustee. Although I have cherished the time I’ve spent serving all residents of Oak Park, I’ve always told anyone who would listen that two terms seems like the right amount of time to serve in one locally elected position. And my thinking hasn’t changed.
My departure does not mean that I think all of our work is finished. There will always be something left to complete, and the next big issue facing the community will always be right around the corner. Yet after two terms, it’s time for me to take a break.
I am very proud of what we have accomplished. Among other things, we made Oak Park a welcoming village, helping to underscore our longstanding commitment to being a diverse and welcoming community to all at a critical time in history. I fought to ensure that Oak Park did not opt out of Cook County’s minimum wage law. I was an early supporter of the village’s involvement with the Collaboration for Early Childhood Care & Education to help all of our children reach their full potential. I have advocated consistently for affordable housing, environmental sustainability and racial equity.
When I took office in 2011, residents were clamoring for economic development to take hold in our village, and through intentional, defined efforts, Oak Park has made tremendous strides. I have tried to serve as a moderating voice, bringing different opinions together to help us establish a path forward for our community. During all of these decisions, the tax burden on Oak Parkers has remained forefront in my mind. Critical investments in aging infrastructure and pension payments needed to be made, as did difficult cuts in staffing and programs. None of this was ever easy.
I’ve never been a particularly good politician, but I think I’ve been a good public servant, remaining true to Oak Park’s core values. I was raised by two loving, involved, progressive parents who stressed the value of public service and the importance of fighting for those who are less fortunate. I have always tried to be a strong, practical, progressive voice on the village board. And Oak Parkers have always pushed me and made me better.
The election results of November 2016 lit a fire under many people. I am thrilled that so many people are getting involved, paying attention to local issues and considering running for office. Serving on the village board may not be glamorous work, but it is incredibly important work. And the board is well supported by a smart, ethical, hard-working and committed village staff.
To those of you who are critical thinkers, truly interested in governing and setting good policy, and willing to listen to a variety of perspectives about how best to move forward: consider stepping up to run. You won’t regret it. I never have.
A lot of important work and decisions lie ahead in the next six months, and I plan to finish my term continuing to advocate for the same policies and values that I have pushed for over the past seven and a half years. I expect all of you to continue to push me.
Thank you for giving me the amazing opportunity to serve.