Thinking of Them

Teaching feminist theory in my lit. class today, and asked the students if they could define what first wave and second wave feminism were. I also asked if they’d call themselves feminists — why or why not? (In previous years, at least a third of my class typically was hesitant to call themselves feminists, including many of the women.)

They’re in breakout rooms right now, we’ll see what what they say when they come back. But after winning the school board election yesterday, I’m reminded that the 19th amendment was only passed in 1919 (ratified in 1920).

There are likely women alive in America today who remember when women (their mothers) weren’t allowed to vote. Today, after winning my election, I’m thinking of them.

America STILL hasn’t had a woman president.

Ten Things, The Morning After the Election

1. It does look like I’ve likely won my seat on the D200 high school board, though there are enough mail-in ballots to be counted (which can take up to two weeks!) that it could potentially swing the vote. Statistically very unlikely, though, so all the people sending me congratulations are probably fine. Here’s a newspaper article with more info: https://www.oakpark.com/…/d97-and-d200-school-boards…/

(They got a quote from me because I was the front-runner when they checked last night, but Fred Arkin pulled a little bit ahead after that, so I’m currently standing at second. Over 7000 people ticked my name on the box. Thank you, folks. I will do my best to deserve your trust.)

2. The congratulations are sort of funny. I came home from a small election night gathering last night and told Kevin it looked like I’d won, and he said, “Well, that’s what you wanted, right?” And I had to laugh a little, because yes, it’s what I wanted, I wouldn’t have run otherwise, but what it actually means is that I’ve signed up for: at least twice as much unpaid volunteer work as I currently do + upset parents yelling at me. That is the lot of the school board trustee. I’m still glad I won, because I hope I’ll be able to do some good things for the community on the board, also, I do think representation matters, and it’s important for the kids to see a queer brown woman on the board, but it’s not exactly a power & glory kind of thing. 🙂

3. I’m delighted that Kebreab Henry won — we don’t necessarily agree on everything, but that’s okay, we can work it out at the board table. I think he’s going to be a strong voice and presence on the board. Also, Kebreab is really tall. We had a funny moment at the gathering last night where we met in person for the first time, and I don’t know what his first impression of me was, but mine was definitely “oh, you’re a foot taller than I realized from Zoom.” I was wearing three inch heels, but he still kind of towered over me. (It’s okay, I’m at LEAST six feet tall in my own head.)

4. The gathering itself was so odd. How long has it been since I went out to a party? Since I put on shoes that weren’t sneakers? Since I put goop in my hair? A long, long, long time, folks. I got there, and definitely felt some strong awkwardness, because I have forgotten how to people, apparently. But I was pointed to a drink, and there was music playing, and I drifted to the outdoor patio, and after a margarita and some yummy appetizers (delicious food, Citrine, nice job!), it was all coming back to me. And then I chattered non-stop for about 3 hours. I peopled reasonably effectively! (It’s a little hard hearing people outside with lots of other people talking and wearing masks, I have to admit. Everybody, go get your vaccinations as soon as you’re allowed, please!)

5. Thank you so much to all the volunteers who worked so hard this election, and especially those who consciously worked to help elect people from marginalized and disenfranchised communities. I know this is a hard morning for many of you, because while some of your candidates were elected (hooray), many weren’t. Remember to celebrate the wins, and also remember that visibility you helped bring your candidates is not wasted. They ran for office. They participated in those candidate forums. Their voices were heard and changed the public conversations. And if they’re up for running again, the work they did this election will help them start in a better position next time around.

6. I’m a little bummed that Elias Ortega didn’t quite make the cut, because I think he’s brilliant and compassionate and wise; I would’ve loved to have him on the board. He’s very new to town, which does make it much harder to win election; people just don’t know you, and with the pandemic, it was impossible to do the traditional campaigning I did last time around, meeting as many people in person as possible, shaking a lot of hands. (Shaking hands! All those germs!) I’m trying to talk Elias into serving on a citizen commission in the interim, and maybe running again in two years, so keep an eye out for him then!

7. I’m pleased that Fred Arkin and Tom Cofsky won re-election (Fred is not incumbent, but has served on the board previously); I didn’t know them before this election, but I’ve liked what they had to say in candidate forums, and they’re both longstanding members of the community with many years of experience with the high school. I think we’ll likely be able to have valuable and productive interactions on the board, and I’m looking forward to working with them both.

8. So much of being able to be effective on a 7-person board is being able to work with the other people on the board. If it’s just you being a lone wolf, well, you can be the voice of principled dissent at every board meeting, and sometimes that’s the only thing you can do, and it’s still worth doing. But I’d personally find that very frustrating — I like to get things done. The high school is already great, there are things we can do to help it be even better. I’m glad that it looks like we’ll have a strong board to make that possible.

9. It’s been such a harried season, I actually never quite did the fundraising I meant to do. That doesn’t mean y’all are off the hook, though. I tried to keep my expenses minimal, but I do still have about $1500 Kev and I loaned the campaign for yard signs and flyers, and if people are in a position to chip in towards that, I’d appreciate it. Especially because I don’t think campaigns should be self-funded, ideally — when they are, it leads to billionaires buying elections, as we saw recently with the governor’s race in Illinois. (I mean, I’m glad that the billionaire I preferred won, but still.) So if I can get a host of $5 – $20 donations, that would be swell. Think of it as buying me the coffee that will keep me awake during those long, long board meetings? I will add a link in comments shortly. 🙂

10. I’ve been thinking about the public comments section of the board meetings, and wondering if there’s a better way to handle it than what we currently do. I don’t know how standardized this is, or how much it’s written into law. Right now, members of the public can sign up to give a comment, and then they have up to 3 minutes to speak. At the library, we so rarely had people come to give comment, we didn’t worry about the three minute restriction; we just let them talk. At school board, though, from what I hear, there are often many members of the public who want to say something, especially when there’s something contentious on the table (such as when we go back to in-person during a pandemic). So you end up sitting and listening to people talk, one after another, many of them repetitive. I’m not sure that’s the best way to really get the temperature of the community. Maybe there’s not a better way — sometimes, people speaking like this lets them tell personal stories that really make clear to the board the human cost of their decisions. But is there an option for submitting written comment as well? And/or short videos that board members could review in advance? (Both of which are also good for access, because not everyone can easily make it to a physical board meeting, for a host of reasons.) Something I’d like to learn more about. Just because we’ve always done things a certain way doesn’t mean we can’t change it. Governance is about serving the people, and we should always be looking for ways to improve the process.

More thoughts likely to come. Onwards.

I Might Need an Evening Coffee Habit

Me waiting for the results to come in. Me eating cake with fellow candidates and hardy volunteers. Me seeing that 44 of 45 precincts have reported in, and it looks like I’m likely to be elected. Me, apparently happy at having volunteered for twice as many meetings as I currently attend for the library board, which also go twice as long?

I might have to pick up an evening coffee habit. 🙂

Final results tomorrow, I think — there’s one more precinct to report, and mail-in ballots to count.

I’m also watching the library board race closely, or I would be, if they were giving the results of that, but I’m not seeing them anywhere — that might not be reported until tomorrow?

[Editing to note, library results also in, we are pleased.]

The Honorable Madhurima Chakraborty

I am pleased with these results for the library. Woot! I’ll be leaving it in good hands, which is a weight off my mind. And congrats, Madhurima Chakraborty!

(Once you’re inducted, you’ll be entitled to call yourself The Honorable Madhurima Chakraborty. For life.)

Ask Me Anything

Tomorrow is election day here in Oak Park. I’ll be posting later with my election picks, in case that’s helpful to locals, but for now, I’m going to make this an AMA — Ask Me Anything post. I do have a lot of work to get through today, but in between work, I’ll try to answer any questions y’all have that might be pertinent to the election.

This is mainly geared to Oak Park & River Forest voters, although if others want to chime in with relevant questions (I’m running for high school board), if there’s time, I’ll answer those too. (But if you can ID yourself as not a local voter, that’d help, if I need to prioritize.)

Blooming at My House

Also blooming at my house — yard signs! Mine are finally in, with less than two weeks until the election, yes I’m cutting it close, it’s been a year, people. If you signed up for a yard sign, I have yours ready, and if you’d like ones for Kebreab Henry and/or Elias Ortega, please let me know — I endorse them both enthusiastically for D200. If you didn’t sign up but want one, I have a dozen or so extras, I think, so speak up now!

I’m Still Very Serious

Heading into my possibly last library board meeting (depending on whether I get elected to school board — if I don’t, I’ll have one more library board meeting after this).

I’m mildly amused by how meeting remotely has relaxed dress conventions a little bit — I think I wore a blazer to most of the first year’s meetings, relaxed it a little bit in my second year (generally wearing my business casual ‘teaching clothes’)

Now, I’m basically in my gardening clothes, including very practical kerchief that keeps my hair out of my eyes, but doesn’t look like a Very Serious Board Member…I am still Very Serious, though, I assure you.

Candidate Profile in the Local Paper

Candidate profile in the local paper — my bio, plus brief answers to a few questions. (They asked that we keep them brief.)

 

Chicago Tribune Piece on the Candidates for D200

Chicago Tribune piece on the candidates for D200 school board; we answered various questions for them.

A Rough Election Cycle

A student journalist at Medill has published this timeline and explication of some of the recent events in Oak Park politics. It’s been a rough election cycle here.