The small business community has an urgent need highlighted by the pandemic. With several community partners serving aspects of the business community, no one is charged with marketing the entire small business community to consumers in Oak Park. This contrasts with the proactive support Forest Park, Berwyn, LaGrange and other communities provide to their business community. In March, the Chamber of Commerce reached out to village staff and the village board and asked for help to survive the pandemic. Their request for marketing support has been a consistent ask since March.

As elected officials, our role is to solve community problems. We do that by listening to our constituents and holding staff accountable to create solutions to the problems we hear. We are not charged with creating solutions on our own as individuals.  

It is eight months later and the village has not responded with a solution for marketing the business community as a whole. That lack of leadership, listening, and response makes people frustrated. 

When that frustration turns to anger, it is inappropriate to then become defensive. It is wildly inappropriate to attack our community partners in a public meeting or to attack each other at the board table. This culture needs to change. We need to focus on solutions and policy and not on bullying each other. I don’t reject bullying on my own behalf; I reject it on behalf of the community as a whole who suffer the collateral damage of an unproductive culture.  

Let’s work together.  

Simone Boutet 

Village trustee and candidate for village president

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