We just had a local election. Based on unofficial results for Oak Park village trustee from the Cook County Board of Elections as of April 4, it appears that Susan Buchanan, Jim Taglia, and Arti Walker-Peddakotla will be our new trustees. I congratulate our new trustees on their victories and sincerely hope the progressive idealism that has shaped Oak Park will survive and advance. My comments below address the election process and not animus toward any of the candidates.
Though I'd like to think that most of us vote on the basis of candidate policies and personal qualifications, it is undeniable, and appropriate, for voters committed to diversity of representation, that race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and other "identity" factors impact voter choices.
In this race there were four white men, two white women, four black men, and one woman of color. The Wednesday Journal editorial board endorsed Taglia, Buchanan, and Wesley. The Journal's endorsed white man and white woman candidates won. The only candidate of the 11 running endorsed by the WJ who did not win was Wesley, a black man. The only candidate not endorsed by the Journal who won was the one woman of color.
Two progressive local activist groups made endorsements and had volunteers working vigorously for months for their endorsed candidates. None of the candidates endorsed by VOICE of Oak Park (the larger and more locally based of the two groups, with endorsements based on an open vetting and community voting process) — Tim Thomas, Christian Harris, and Joshua Klayman — won. Only one candidate, Arti Walker-Peddakotla, of the three candidates endorsed by Reclaim Oak Park (a local branch of the People's Lobby of Chicago, with a smaller but very active and committed local membership) — Thomas, Harris, and Walker-Peddakotla — won. The two black men who were endorsed by both groups lost.
a) In a local race with low-information voters, the Wednesday Journal editorial board, an opaque group whose membership is not listed on the Journal's website, which presumably includes Wednesday Journal staff members, working for a for-profit local business whose publisher no longer lives in Oak Park, and perhaps some others, had greater influence over a local election than scores of local activists who put their hearts and souls into working for their selected candidates.
b) In local elections, business-friendly media (near) monopolies can largely call an election when the progressive vote is split among a multitude of candidates.
c) The power and influence of for-profit local media (when it exists at all) is undemocratic.
True democracy should include democratic accountability over all institutions that significantly impact social choices.
Ron Baiman is a member of VOICE of Oak Park and secretary of West Cook Chicago Democratic Socialists of America. Google Baiman "A Proposal for Democratic Constitutional Reform in Cuba" for more.
Answer Book 2018
To view the full print edition of the Wednesday Journal 2018 Answer Book, please click here.
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