Across the country, democratic norms are under assault. Extreme gerrymandering allows those in power to choose their voters. The Voting Rights Act hangs by a thread. And it is people of color, non-Christians, and immigrants who will bear the brunt.

We are not immune to this here in Oak Park. Candidates of color routinely face a gauntlet of ballot challenges that white candidates normally do not. Sky-high campaign costs make public service inaccessible to most.

We can address these problems here in Oak Park. The committee that hears ballot challenges can clarify its procedures as well as guard candidates from frivolous or bad-faith challenges. Ranked choice voting could make our local government more representative. Campaign costs could be reined in by ordinance and the power of example.

Yes, democratic norms are under assault in this country. Oak Park can and should go a different way by making our democracy fairer and more accessible.

John Edgerton
Lead pastor, First United Church of Oak Park
President, Community of Congregations

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