Hence ActBlue

Good morning, folks! ActBlue wasn’t set up for our school board race the last time I checked, but they are now, and I’ve finished my set-up, so if you’d like to donate to my campaign, this is your chance.

This is a non-partisan election, so I’m not running as a Democrat per se, but by now, I think you know that my political leanings are strongly Democratic and progressive. (I’d actually like the Democratic party to lean more left, so I’ll keep trying to drag it in that direction, whether or not I’m elected…) Hence ActBlue.

You’ll see me talking a fair bit about campaign fundraising in the next few days — the election is April 6, so it’ll just be a short fundraising window. Costs are basically for a mailer and yard signs, plus a bit for the website, so I’m aiming to raise around $3-$4K to cover those expenses.

Donate here: https://secure.actblue.com/entity/fundraisers/114962

Learn more about my campaign here: http://www.mohanrajforoprf.com

Endorsed by the Illinois Asian American Caucus

Delighted to receive an endorsement from the Illinois Asian American Caucus.

As someone who has taught Asian American literature & history at the college level, I know how far we still have to go in providing a comprehensive and complete education on those subjects to our students and the community at large.

If elected as a school board trustee, I hope to help ensure that our students receive a wide-ranging education in a diverse range of subjects, including strong understanding of the cultural, racial, and ethnic history of our country.

Yard Sign for My Campaign

Hello, local peeps who would like to support my campaign! I have a yard sign design, woohoo!, and will be ordering signs tomorrow, to distribute hopefully by the end of the week.

If you’d like to host a sign in your yard, let me know now? It’ll help me know how many to order tomorrow!

Original design courtesy Jenn Reese, deftly adapted for this campaign by Marcy Grant. 🙂

Campaign Things I Have Finally Done Today:

– asked Jed to fix my campaign website address- wrote apologetic note to campaign volunteer saying super sorry for being super slow- told her yes I am committing to the postcard mailing costs- waffled and then sent her some potential text for postcards

– sent her photo for postcards

(All of the above took no more than 30 minutes, I think, and yet it’s taken me several DAYS to make myself do it, sigh.)


Campaign things I still have to do (might happen tonight, might happen tomorrow):- revise my campaign website and fill in a bunch of missing stuff- talk to finance peeps about financial / legal requirements for campaign

– start seriously figuring out who will be hosting yard signs for me


Things that won’t happen ’til Monday, but really need to happen then:- open campaign bank account- start actually fundraising for campaign (with hope of finishing fundraising within a day or two, because I’d rather not spend weeks on this, this time around) — goal of $4500.

– order yard signs


Once I do all that, I’ll be reasonably in good shape for the campaign, I think. Onwards.

A Strange Campaign Season

DPOP candidate forum done — we definitely got some questions that were a little different from the Democrat party peeps, than we’ve been getting from the general populace. Nice to have new questions to answer, though in general, much of what campaigning is, really is answering the same question over and over and over again for different people. 🙂

This weekend, I need to focus on getting some bits of campaign stuff finished. I have to:

– finish my website (and rename it)

– make a financial decision re: spending money on postcards

– prep the material for the postcards if so

I hope to have a yard sign design finalized by Monday (thanks, Marcy Grant!), and will then place an order, so if you’d like to host a yard sign for me, please do let me know. Knowing now will help me figure out how many to order on Monday!


I’m running a much more low-key campaign this time around than four years ago. It’s not that I care any less about serving on the board! But:

– it feels irresponsible to do in-person campaigning, especially before I’m fully vaccinated, so I haven’t been doing that at all

– money is tighter now for a lot of people, so I’m more hesitant about asking people for campaign funds; I’m going to do a little of it, but less than last time around, and if you’re in a financial position where it would be a hardship, please DON’T donate to my campaign; I can suggest other people who would be better to support

– although we don’t have polls, so I can’t know for sure, I think I have a pretty good chance of being elected to this board — I have a lot of relevant experience, 5000+ people voted for me in the last election, and I’m sure that the fact that I’m the only woman running (and a queer woman of color) will be a factor as well in many voters’ decisions

– and the rest of the candidates are pretty strong — it’s not going to be a disaster if I’m not elected, thankfully

So, I’m happy to go to forums and answer questions, and I’m thinking I’ll do at least one Facebook Ask Me Anything day before the election, but I’m spending a lot less money and a lot less time on creating campaign materials, organizing volunteers to walk for me, etc.

It’s a strange campaign season all around.

(Election is April 6. Oak Park / River Forest peeps, have you made your plans for voting? Early voting is open now, if you’d like to get it out of the way!)

DPOP Candidate Forum

In DPOP candidate forum right now on Zoom, listening to the questions for the Village President candidates (my turn will come). They were talking about economic recovery and the budget, and I suddenly wondered whether, in the same way the federal government passes economic stimulus packages, that ever happens at a local municipality level.

For example, let’s say that tax levy is 3% normally. Oak Park could, in theory, levy 3.1%, and then take those extra funds raised, and redistribute them as cash recovery grants to the population (like the coming $1400 federal grant, just passed as part of the America Rescue plan). They could just do it directly per person or per household, or target hard-hit businesses, etc.

If I’m thinking about this correctly, it should work out in a progressive taxation kind of way — for individual grants, for example, the wealthy would pay a significant amount, the upper-middle would essentially get the extra tax back in the cash grant, so a wash for them, and the middle-to-low-income would get a significant economic boost.

Maybe it’s not done because it’d be such a small amount of funds transfer, and there’s enough cost to implementing the process that it wouldn’t be wortwhile? Would be curious. Thoughts?

(It’s a good thing I’m not running for Village Trustee or President, as this would be rather a fox among the chickens moment, tossing this question out three weeks before the election…)

A Campaign Bank Account

Hey, folks, I could use some legal / financial advice / help. I think I’m going to spend at least a little money on my campaign, which means I need a campaign bank account, and they’re requiring I have an EIN, I think? (And a form, that I have to find online and fill out…I really don’t think my previous credit union asked for all this, but this bank definitely is.)

The problem is that I already have an EIN for my small business, and I’m only allowed to have one. I’m not sure what the next step should be?

Really, I need a separate finance person for the next four or so weeks of my campaign. The one I had last time is not available, and my Serendib House accountant ditto.

If this is you, please let me know. It’d be someone who is comfortable navigating the financial/legal responsibilities of a small campaign (raising under $10K total). I think it’s probably only 3-5 hours of work total, for someone who knows what they’re doing. Paid at a fair market rate.

I Miss My Peeps

12:40 p.m. on a Tuesday night and I am finally trying to get the graphics for my yard signs sorted out, and did I mention that the election is in less than a month! Eep. Pandemic makes time seriously hazy. But I spent a little while looking through old files hunting for my library board graphics, and found all these adorable photos from four years ago, so.

Back in the day when we could gather volunteers together and I could feed them and my friends could host trivia nights and book clubs for my campaign – oh, pandemic campaigning is very different and not nearly so joyous. Still, we do what needs to be done.

(I miss my peeps.)

It’s International Women’s Day

I’m the only woman running for the D200 school board. 6 candidates, and 5 of them are men.

Today, I invite you to think about what systemic barriers prevent women from running for office, and what that means in terms of women’s voices and influence in our government.

School board is an unpaid position here. I wouldn’t be able to serve on school board if my husband weren’t willing to be responsible for all of our childcare when I’m at meetings, for example. (And the next morning too, given that school board meetings often run ’til midnight, from what I’ve heard.)

Filling Out the Oak Leaves Newspaper

Oh, this is what I do at 11:30 p.m. on a Friday night, filling out another candidate questionnaire, this one from the Oak Leaves newspaper. Mostly the same questions as other questionnaires, although with a few differences:

> Why are you running for election to the board?

I’m finishing up a four-year term on the Oak Park library board, and I hope that my extensive educational experience (as both a long-time student and a professor) can offer some helpful perspectives on the D200 board.

> What are the biggest challenges currently facing District 200 and what can the school board do to address them?

• adapting to the pandemic and its consequences will necessarily impact both the budget and day-to-day logistical planning; although we can hope that much of the community will be vaccinated before fall semester starts, masking will almost certainly need to continue through the fall, and I’d be looking to science and evidenced-based research to guide the board on appropriate actions

• as we continue to implement the IMAGINE plan at OPRF, I expect that each new phase will bring its own challenges along with concerns from the community; the board will need to be ready to explain its decisions (and possibly revise plans if needed by changing circumstances)

• keeping a focus on equity and a level playing field for all our students will require balancing complex needs and demands from various stakeholders, listening thoughtfully to community concerns, and working together to craft concrete and measurable steps towards improved equity

> What is most in need of change or improvement in the district and what do you think the board can do to facilitate this?

There are significant barriers along racial, ethnic, class, and gender lines that make it impossible for our students to work to their full potential; given the wider society we live in, this isn’t surprising, but in Oak Park & River Forest, we have an opportunity to increase educational opportunities for all of our students. The prior board and our outgoing superintendent have put some ambitious racial equity policies in place that will help to address some of these issues; the incoming board and superintendent will have the opportunity to support those initiatives and expand upon them.

> Should the board vote on education plans when it comes to how many hours or days per week students learn remotely?

Typically, I’d expect that the superintendent and staff would present a plan to the board, and that the board would respond to that plan, in a back-and-forth until all were in reasonable agreement. In a pandemic when the situation was changing rapidly and we were all learning on the job (building the plane as we tried to fly it, as many educators were saying last spring), I’d expect the board to give clear guidance to the staff on general expectations, and then let the staff bring their expertise to the actual day-to-day curricular and logistical plans. So no, the fine details of how many hours or days students learn remotely don’t seem appropriate matters for a board vote.

> When should full-time in-person learning resume at the school?

In general, I’m always going to say to follow the science and used evidence-based decision making. Every week, we learn more about this disease (and its variants), and how to best contain and treat it. Given current CDC guidelines for social distancing, I’m expecting that we’ll be in hybrid mode in the fall; I teach at UIC, and that’s what they communicated to us this past week. But the situation could change, and change again, depending on how quickly the vaccines roll out (with the J&J vaccine just approved this past week, for example, that will change availability for the better), how quickly pediatric vaccines are developed and approved, etc.

> Should the school district commit to further campus renovations at this time?

Yes — we should continue with the facilities plan.

> Are there cost savings you believe the board should be pursuing for the district? If so, in what areas?

I’m still fairly immersed in the library budget; I’m looking forward to looking at the D200 budget in more detail if elected. But that said, my experience on the library board was that there really weren’t a lot of obvious cost savings that hadn’t already been addressed — previous boards had already picked all the low-hanging fruit in that regard. We have been able to build in some savings, but it’s generally through things like technology improvements — switching to LED lights, for example, which will save us a lot of money in the long run.

> How would you rate how the district has addressed equity and inclusion amongst its diverse population of students. Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with the district’s work?

This is a pretty special place — there’s a reason why my husband and I chose to come here to raise our mixed-race kids. Historically, this community has been working on these issues for decades, and in many ways, are ahead of neighboring communities and the country. But that said, this is a long road, and we still have quite a ways to go. It’s not the time to rest on our laurels, but rather to take the initiative and push forward, so that all of our students can achieve to their full potential and thrive in the school environment, and beyond.

> What is your profession?

I’m a writer and English professor at the University of Illinois.

> What town do you live in?

Oak Park.

> What else would you like voters to know?

Here are a few useful links:

My candidate web page: http://mohanrajforoakpark.com

My Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Anne_Mohanraj

My personal website: http://www.maryannemohanraj.com