Five weeks ago, I had a hysterectomy. It is surgery that was needed because of a uterine fibroid that was causing an immense amount of discomfort and pain. As a result of this surgery, I’ve been forced to rest, and that has given me an enormous amount of time to reflect on my last three years as Trustee. 

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. 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. 

In all honesty, I’d decided earlier this year that I wasn’t going to run for another term. And when I made that decision, I told myself that I could “tough it out” for the rest of my time in office. 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.

One day, when I’m ready, I will talk about everything I’ve had to endure while staying true to my values and community that elected me. But for now, 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. And that if there are inequities present in our society, it is because our governments were designed to create and sustain those inequities. 

When people say that our governments aren’t working for us, that’s because our governments weren’t designed to work for most of us – those of us especially that live in constant survival mode, toughing/persevering it out everywhere we go. Additionally, when people say that “governing is hard”, my response to that is, “for whom?” Because governing never seems to be hard for people that continue to pour an endless amount of money into police and our military. Governing never seems to be hard for those that deny the urgency of the climate crisis. Governing never seems to be hard for corporations and billionaires who continue to create new ways to pay less and less in taxes. Governing only seems to be hard for people who are oppressed, who are deemed as less than or othered by our government, and for those who resist the constant pressure to compromise and further entrench the government’s status quo. Therefore, it is up to us to abolish these systems, and radically reimagine how our governments work, and whom they work for. And although I will no longer fight for these issues at the board table, I will always stay committed to the fight for abolition and a reimagined world where everyone has the freedom to thrive. 

I submitted my formal letter of resignation, as required by Illinois law, to the Village President today. The Village President now has the power to appoint a new Trustee to fill my seat, of which the term ends in May 2023. I can only hope that the person appointed will continue to advocate for the issues that I’ve fought so hard for, like racial equity, creating a non-police emergency response team, defunding the police and reinvesting that money into our community, fighting against the use of carceral technology, implementing the Greenways plan and creating a Vision Zero plan to create more accessible and safer streets, and affordable housing. But ultimately, what the next Trustee advocates for will and should always be up to you, the people. 

Finally, I want to thank everyone who has supported me since 2018, when I announced my run for office. Although there are far too many people to list, I do want to call out all the organizers with Freedom to Thrive Oak Park and ROYAL: The Revolutionary Oak Park Youth Action League. The organizing you did was tireless and thankless work that helped expose the truth about policing in our community. Be proud of what you helped accomplish no matter how small the wins may seem. Because radical reimaginings are measured not by the final outcome, but by every single step it takes to get to a reimagined world. Thank you especially to the young people of ROYAL – for calling me in and holding me accountable. You were my first teachers on abolition and reimagining community safety, and I am forever indebted to you.

In gratitude and solidarity,

-Arti Walker-Peddakotla

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