What is your experience? It’s a common question I often field and I’ve started thinking about what it means to have experience. Helping to guide a diverse and dynamic village like Oak Park requires so much more than village board-sitting experience. It requires empathy, a yes-I-can attitude, a network of smart people, grit, vulnerability, and vision. I have all of that, and more. 

My experience at the Park District of Oak Park is my most immediate and, to some, most relevant work experience. It’s easy to compare its organizational structure with the village since an elected board directs the executive, who then directs the staff. And while this experience certainly aids in my understanding of how government and the board functions, I don’t think it’s what makes me a great leader. 

I would count my experience with the Boy Scouts as valuable, without question. I have taught many Scouts, and other young people, about what it means to be an elected leader — the expectations, the responsibility, how it works, why it’s important.  

But more than that, I’ve helped teach them about our community, what it needs, and about the people the village board actually serves. Proximity to a document, or a seat next to another elected official, does not make you a leader. Proximity to people that informs a vision for a better community is the most important thing.

Years of advocating for state and county legislative changes to improve access, quality of life, and funding for our neighbors has provided ample exposure to budgetary process and municipal governing.

I’ve heard that we should feel lucky to have “either woman” as village president, implying that the only prerequisite to succeeding in that position is that we’re not male or not like the current board leadership. This statement disregards the vast difference between the two women running. 

This belief doesn’t ensure that we’re electing someone who will advocate at the state and county level about issues important to Oak Park, as I have. It doesn’t mean we’re electing someone who has the will and tenacity to challenge a national organization from within the existing structure to change years of discriminatory rules like I did. 

I have policy plans for affordable housing, climate justice, participatory budgeting, and sustainable development, all of which are available on my website, written in collaboration with community members and experts. In fact, leaders in these fields, like People’s Action and Sierra Club among others have endorsed me for this level of experience — for what I can bring to this job.

In this critical moment, we cannot be complacent because the status quo is hurting people. Oak Park needs leadership with vision and the drive to get us there. Join me in voting for the future, for making Oak Park a place that is open for all people. This vision is what Oak Park has traded on and I am dedicated to making that vision reality because I have the leadership experience that truly matters. 

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