Arti Walker-Peddakotla

Arti Walker-Peddakotla has resigned as Oak Park village trustee, citing stress-related health concerns related to her job as an elected official. Walker-Peddakotla, wrote that she is recovering from a recent hysterectomy, handed in her notice Aug. 18, effective immediately.

In a statement sent to Wednesday Journal and posted to her Facebook page, Walker-Peddakotla explained the toll the job has taken on her mental and physical well-being. 

“During my time in office, I’ve been open about my mental health struggles with anxiety and depression. But what I’ve only recently realized is the extent to which the anxiety and stress from this job have impacted my physical health,” she wrote.

“And this latest health crisis has forced me to reckon with something I’ve known for a while but was too afraid to say: It’s time for me to resign as trustee and step down from the village board, effective immediately.”

A formal letter of resignation has been submitted to Village President Vicki Scaman, who now has the responsibility of appointing someone to fill the seat vacated by Walker-Peddakotla.

Scaman told Wednesday Journal she respects Walker-Peddakotla’s decision to prioritize her health and that “her voice will be missed” on the board.

“She brought passion and her full self to the role, and that has its costs,” Scaman said of Walker-Peddakotla.

At this time, Scaman does not have a short list of potential appointees, but she said she feels “a sense of the urgency” to find qualified individuals for the position.

Walker-Peddakotla, who declined to speak about her decision beyond her statement, was elected to the village board in 2019, making her one of the board’s more seasoned trustees. Her term would have ended in May 2023. She announced in her statement that she had not been planning to seek re-election.

“And when I made that decision, I told myself that I could ‘tough it out’ for the rest of my time in office,” Walker-Peddakotla wrote. “But as I sit here with five separate incisions across my abdomen, I’m realizing the cost of ‘toughing it out’ on my mental and physical health.”

While serving during the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic, Walker-Peddakotla’s tenure on the board was marked by an unwavering dedication to promote racial equity, law enforcement reform and environmental sustainability. She often spoke of her experiences as a domestic abuse survivor and as a veteran of the U.S. Army.

She never faltered in standing up for her values, at times sacrificing progress on sustainability and equity initiatives she believed could be stronger. Her political stances occasionally contributed to discord among board members, chiefly during the tail-end of Anan Abu-Taleb’s time as village president.

“I am proud to say that I never gave in to the immense pressure to compromise, and that I stayed true to my beliefs as an abolitionist, a radical progressive and a socialist democrat who understands that our government is working exactly as it was/is designed,” she wrote.

In her statement, Walker-Peddakotla thanked her supporters, giving particular acknowledgement to the members of Freedom to Thrive Oak Park and the Revolutionary Oak Park Youth Action League (ROYAL).

She credited the young organizers of ROYAL for holding her accountable, telling them to “be proud of what you helped accomplish no matter how small the wins may seem.”

Join the discussion on social media!