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  • Writer's pictureerinclune3

Why I'm Running for Village Board

I'm taking a detour from writing about history on this blog today, to explain why I'm running for a position on the Board of Trustees for my suburban village. wHaT! It's true. I'm running alongside my esteemed neighbor and former Trustee, Tracy Bailey, who's now running for Village President. You can find her website here.

It's only a minor detour, though, because history and politics are intertwined. I've always been a very political person, both engaged and outspoken, and often speaking out in long, overwritten emails with lots of angry capital letters. I know I share this participatory trait with many of my neighbors. Since I was a kid, I've protested; marched; volunteered; canvassed; petitioned; voted. I have taught and read and written about politics for years, as well, because I have a doctorate in post-Civil War U.S. history, a field that's political to its core because in one historical era, Black civil rights were dramatically expanded, then violently eroded.

All that said, I've never felt a need or calling to run for office. Until now.

I'm running for three reasons: First, there were open seats. Both for trustee and President. It was a rare opportunity to help, and make our community better. We rallied supporters to the caucus, and people showed up for us. Thanks to all of you for coming to that in-person caucus on a week night. Democracy in action!

Second, we have some big problems to address. Over the past 15 years, I've served in various committee and volunteer roles around the village. I've listened as residents have gotten frustrated or disillusioned with issues like: using available park space, resisting camera surveillance, making safer streets, erratic recreation spending, negotiating with powerful developers, and upgrading our technology and website functionality. I have personal positions on some of these issues -- a dog run, for instance, is a good community service; whereas paying for cameras to spy on residents at the boathouse is not -- but I also hope to talk more with residents about their goals.

Third, we need to govern with procedural consistency and legal compliance. Boring words! I agree. But the fact is, these are meta issues that undergird all the others. We can't address our myriad problems as a community -- not effectively, not transparently, and not fairly --- if we aren't following consistent rules and legal procedures. Without the consistent application of laws, we're not a community at all; we're just living in proximity to one another, while a few people make decisions that affect everyone else. We can increase diversity and democracy in our village, and Tracy and I will do so, by encouraging more residents to participate, and making it easier for them to do so. We'll follow the rules, and hold ourselves accountable.

I understand that politics can get messy. It can be hard to disagree with neighbors. To get important work done, we will have to speak truthfully and plainly. But to paraphrase Beyoncé: I'm not going to diss anyone on the internet, because my mama taught me better than that. I will just say this: I appreciate the longtime service of our Board and commission and committee members. Some of these men have served for multiple terms; for years; for decades. They have great experience. Yet on certain issues, they have also governed with indecision and hesitancy and vacillation. At times, they have not followed consistent procedures or rules. These problems are related: It's impossible to meet new challenges with new ideas when you're not sharing power with new people.

In 2020, the late civil rights activist and politician, John Lewis, wrote an essay about protests and politics, and he requested that it be published on the day of his funeral. In that essay, he said: "You must do something. Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each generation must do its part to help build what we called a Beloved Community, a nation and world society at peace with itself."

And that sums it up.

Vote Erin and Tracy.

For change.

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