Oak Park Township trustee candidate Tim Thomas is listed on the Freedom to Thrive Oak Park website as one of 17 “FTTOP organizers” who signed a letter to village officials demanding the defunding of the police department.

Listed immediately above Thomas is Village Trustee Arti-Walker-Peddakotla; and below, current village president candidate Cate Readling. 

Former Community Relations commissioners Jacquelyn Rodriguez and Brynne Hovde are also listed as supporting the letter. Hovde founded the Activate Oak Park PAC, which is funding the village trustee campaigns of Anthony Clark, Chibuike Enyia and a third candidate.

Rodriguez is also running for township trustee, but her connection to FTTOP didn’t stop Thomas from scheming to knock her off the ballot. That’s odd, given FTTOP’s uber-democratic “let the voters decide” attitude toward ballot access and their self-righteous outrage at Clark’s candidacy for village board of trustee being challenged. 

What’s really odd is that Thomas objected to Rodriguez because she filed her candidacy as a Democrat, which is perfectly legal in Illinois.

It gets plain weird when you consider that, up until a mere two days before his scheduled hearing before the Oak Park Township Board of Electors, Dec. 8, Thomas’ campaign chairman was none other than Cate Readling, who, like Rodriguez, also filed as a Democrat.

Rodriguez’s attorney, Ed Mullin made short work of Thomas’ objection. Faced with an opinion from the township’s lawyers that he had no legal grounds for his challenge, Thomas withdrew the challenge the very morning he was scheduled to be heard by the electoral board. 

Readling resigned as Thomas’ campaign chair Dec. 6, as did campaign treasurer Sarah Grimsley.

Thomas, a Black man and a member of the LGBTQ community, stated in his objection his “interest in filing the following objections is that of a citizen desirous of seeing that the election laws governing the filing of nominating papers for the nomination of the Democratic Party for the office of Township Trustee for the Oak Park Township, are properly complied with.”

Sound familiar? Perhaps because Kevin Peppard, who FTTOP supporters accused of being a racist old white guy targeting Black candidates, stated “My interest in filing the following objections is that of a citizen desirous of seeing that the election laws governing the filing of nominating papers and the qualifications for the office of Village Trustee of Oak Park are followed …”

My guess is Readling, Grimsley and others couldn’t stomach the blatant hypocrisy of someone who’s in favor of “letting the voters decide,” and yet schemed to get a fellow FTTOP supporter disqualified and an FTTOP colleague who filed in the exact same manner as Readling. 

While Peppard presented actual evidence to the village’s electoral board, Thomas’ actions stemmed from nothing more than cheap political expediency; with Rodriguez gone, he would have been one of just five candidates, not six, for four open seats.

Despite her ludicrous call to defund the police, I might yet vote for Rodriguez in April; she’ll have no say on police issues as a Township Trustee, and I support her call for increased funding for mental health services, exactly the type of programs the township has decades of experience administering.

And Thomas? Well, he’s off the ballot, as far as this voter is concerned.

Bill Dwyer is an Oak Park resident.

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