I support Cate Readling for President of the village of Oak Park. Some 60 years ago was the birth of Oak Park as we know it today. The Citizens Committee for Human Rights successfully fought for an Open Housing Ordinance. Those efforts led to the creation of the Housing Center. Over the years there has been an incremental failure to preserve true citizen participation addressing racial justice and diversity as well as the many other strengths that Oak Parkers can bring to their government.

Forgotten or unknown to most Oak Parkers today is that the campaign of the Citizens Committee and the courage of the then-president and board to pass the Housing Ordinance resulted in a “white backlash” slate of candidates for trustee and president. This galvanized an unprecedented number of us who fought for the ordinance to become heavily involved in supporting the VMA slate of candidates. That heavy citizen involvement resulted in the creation of many committees and commissions which were the beginning of the Oak Park we have known and want it to be.

Today citizen committees and commissions are ignored. Cate Readling has long demonstrated the kind of leadership in her civic and principled involvement in our community. She has inspired others by example.

Village government is much more than one person at the top and a board of trustees. It is the many other dedicated staff who put into action not just the budget but the many facets of a community in which we wish to live, including law enforcement and community services. Cate is more than qualified to step into the kind of leadership our village now needs more than ever.

I know Cate (and her wonderful family) well and admire her demonstrated leadership. I look forward to an Oak Park worthy of its principled past and a recommitment to those values.

The opportunity for a new generation of people interested in an Oak Park worthy of their involvement is now. You are the successors, a large group who gives a damn about where our president and board might take us and who welcome our involvement after the election as much as promises made before.

Today that citizen spirit has been much less present. We must bring back that citizen spirit of so many years ago. As president of our village, Cate Readling will lead a rebirth of Oak Park’s greatness. Cate embodies everything that drove us to action 60 years ago. Your time, voters, is now.

Robert Downs, Oak Park

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