With a village board deeply divided on many issues, Oak Park suffers from its own epidemic of partisanship, but it’s not the Democratic versus Republican kind. Do most Oak Parkers care about the “tradition” of Independent status for those running for local public office? More likely we’re oblivious of it. On the other hand, we’re proud of our legacy of breaking with tradition, from architectural convention to racial segregation. And in the midst of a pandemic, running as a Democrat to spare volunteers the health risks of collecting hundreds of ballot petition signatures just makes sense, like wearing your mask.
Criticism of Cate Readling’s decision to run as a Democrat for village president is a red herring. Voters should care more about her qualifications, readiness, and temperament. Cate’s proven progressive values and tested leadership, her boundless energy and positive spirit, her ability to forge relationships and build consensus, her respect for diverse viewpoints, and her deeply felt commitment to this community are already well known to the many people who’ve worked alongside her in causes ranging from Scouts for Equality to the Fair Tax campaign. These qualities are what the Oak Park Village Board desperately needs to move past its current partisan divide.
Cate Readling should break another tradition: by becoming the first woman of color to serve as president of Oak Park.