Vote for Arti and racial justice

Opinion: Letters To The Editor

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While it's great to see so many Oak Park village trustee candidates addressing equity in their platforms, one candidate stands out in making racial equity the centerpiece of her campaign — Arti Walker-Peddakotla. For Arti, racial equity isn't simply a campaign priority; it's a lifelong commitment.

It's enough of an uphill climb to be a woman of color candidate in our white and male-dominated political arena. It's even more courageous to boldly stand for racial justice when laying low on race would be far more palatable to many voters. But race issues are staring us in the face, and Arti isn't one to sidestep real issues. She may be the underdog but rising to this challenge makes her an over-achiever.

For Arti, like many, the election of Trump was a wake-up call, bringing clarity and urgency to what's at stake, both locally and nationally. The federal government can't be counted on to protect us, so local government must step up for the most vulnerable. She has marched, organized, canvassed, and worked on electoral campaigns.

Arti's blend of skills and life experiences will be a valuable asset to our village board. Born to Indian immigrants, she served in the U.S. Army and is now a senior product manager at a nonprofit tech company. She came to Oak Park as a single mother with a low income, renting a small studio apartment. Thanks to a VA loan, she now lives in a home with her husband and three children. 

She has faced economic hardship, racism and sexism, which gives her an important perspective to bring to our board. She looks deeply and holistically at our key issues, making connections between our school districts and village government, and local and state tax policy. She's genuine, humble, passionate, and will fight for the underdog, the working class, and those struggling economically.

Arti founded OPRF for Racial Equity, a new organization supporting women of color candidates running for local office. Currently, there are seven women of color candidates affiliated with this new formation, including Arti for Oak Park trustee; Erika Bachner for River Forest trustee; Gina Harris for District 200 school board; Jung King, Cheree Moore, and Barika Grant-Kirzan for District 97 school board; and Virginia Bloom-Scheirer for Oak Park Library Board.

Woman of color are the most consistent progressive voters and they're now running for office across the country. They're shaking up Congress and the Democratic Party, while advancing some of the most progressive policy in this country. For real change, this is your ticket.

I especially want to appeal to my fellow white voters to support Arti's leadership. If you're serious about racial justice and progressive change, it's woman of color who will lead the way. 

Terry Keleher

Oak Park

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