Featured

Activities of the Action Ridge Discussion Group

Compiled on February 21, 2021

Our decision to initiate a Discussion Group came from our workshops with the Anti-racist Educators–Corrie Wallace, Sarah Dennis, Yvonnie Dubose and Jena Doolas.

We had been helping The Institute for Non-Violence by giving them Christmas presents and working in their Christmas shop.  We wanted to have more interactions with them; but realized,  as we learned more, that, before we engaged further with them and other helping agencies, we needed to be aware of our own racist biases and to study the history of racism.

Here’s a list of all of the things we’ve done to reach our current place of evaluating and planning for the future of the Discussion Group:

  •  April 2019—Corrie Wallace, an anti-racist consultant with numerous area school systems, including in Evanston and here at D207, led us in an interactive workshop to explore racism.
  • Summer 2019—Jena Doolas led a book discussion of What It Means to be White.
  • November 14, 2019—We held a panel Discussion with Sarah Dennis, Yvonnie Dubose, Letesha Dickerson and Jena Doolas to teach us how unconscious bias affects us all.
  • Sarah Dennis led a book discussion of Showing Up for Racial Justice.
  • During the winter we conducted discussions led by Nan.  We read:
    •  So You Want to Talk About Race—Ijeoma Oluo
    • Just Mercy—Bryan Stevenson (Some of us also saw the movie.)
    • Home Going—Yaa Gyasi
    • Waking Up White and Finding Myself in the Story of Race—Debby Irving
    • How To Be Anti-racist—Ibram Kendi
  •  We saw:
    • “When They See Us”—film
    • “The Hate You Give”—film
    • “The Long Shadow”—film.
    • Shame of Chicago” and “The Color Tax” and “No Place to Live” by Bruce Orenstein
  •  On June 6th we participated in the Prayer/Peace Vigil organized by the Ministerial Association and in a Black Lives Matter rally on June 27th.
  • In November we participated in the library presentation with Ibram Kendi.
  • In December Sarah Dennis and Yvonnie Dubose conducted a Healing Circle with several Discussion members.
  • In January and February, we combined the Discussion Group and the General Meeting by hosting Bill Ayers, Bernardine Dohrn and Jerry Kellman to discuss “Building the Beloved Community”.
  •  In March, we are planning to once more combine the Discussion Group and the General Meeting with a training with the Institute for Non-violence.

  •  
Featured

Meeting Minutes ~ 2.18.21

Action Ridge General Meeting

February 18, 2021

7:00pm

Review of Recent and Upcoming Items

February 22nd, 7:00–The Sustainability Task Force is asking for support.  Call 847-318-5200 to register for the Council meeting or sign up online at

https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/6782738111268885003

February 24th, 7:00—The Discussion Group will meet to decide next steps.

We are forming a group to plan ways to advocate for increased Affordable Housing.  Email actionridge2017@gmail.com to join in.

Pat Lofthouse, Julianna Lopez de Philbrook, Kate Kerin, Linda Ritts, Liz Swanson and Nan Parson are meeting next week to talk about possibly incorporating.

Alissa Goldwasser is researching the Criminal Justice Reform Bill (HB3653) and will report to us soon.

Liz and Nan have talked to Ashley Perkins, of The Institute for Nonviolence, about conducting a Nonviolence Workshop.  A tentative date of March 24th has been set.

Lisa Page is negotiating with the library about showing The Long Shadow, followed by a discussion with the writer/producer.

On March 18th, the Park Ridge League of Woman Voters will sponsor a candidate forum.  Action Ridge’s Julianna Lopez de Philbrook will take part.  They are asking for volunteers.  If you’d like to help, email the Park Ridge League.

There was an article in Journal Topics that reviewed the recent Maine South High School video meeting about diversity and inclusion.

Karen Hein mentioned that The League of Woman Voters is holding its annual Issues Briefing on February 22 and February 27. Information and registration are at lwvil.org.

Special Guest Gerald Kellman

Sue and Mike McGovern introduced Gerald (Jerry) Kellman. Jerry is an organizer who has been working for social justice in areas including affordable housing, restorative justice, and violence prevention for decades. He co-founded the Gamaliel Foundation and brought Barack Obama to Chicago in 1985. He currently works for the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, an organization that advocates for financial institutions to make investments in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods.

Jerry described his journey in social justice work:

Grew up in New Rochelle, NY, which was geographically segregated and, as a result, had segregated neighborhood schools. The fight to integrate the schools was his introduction to organizing.

Much of his work has been rooted in faith-based initiatives.  He worked with churches. More recently he believes that Evangelical churches have turned from social justice to tyranny and that the Catholic church has not engaged where it should.

Fast forward a decade or more…

Recruited by NCRC to address economic racism, namely the difficulty of people of color to get loans. NCRC is the principal organization that holds banks accountable for reinvesting in communities. About to complete the largest agreement to date with PNC Bank– more philanthropy, more lending to communities of color, alternatives to payday lending.

Also working on workforce initiatives for NCRC. SNAP employment and training is a program with bipartisan support that is being underutilized in several states including Pennsylvania and Michigan.

Observations/Beliefs

Community groups (churches, unions, etc.) are not as strong as they used to be. The internet has, to a degree, supplanted the information flow that came through these institutions. Organizing has to change as a result.

On transitions: Moments of questioning are uncomfortable, when what you thought you knew shifts. If you sit with it, you can move through to something possibly more worthwhile. Barack Obama’s election began a transition that we are currently moving through.

An organizer’s skill is listening – what people want, need, care about.

Relationships are the key to inspiring and sustaining movements. There is a need to be in a relationship with those we want to help and people who want to help us. It is important to be around people who are different than we are and to hear their point of view.

Define yourself, don’t let others define you.

Addressing Local Issues

Easier to do affordable housing if you have the partnership of your municipality. In most towns, this isn’t possible. The good news is that you can still pursue affordable housing in Park Ridge without the city’s help – the laws are very strong. If there’s the money and zoning to put up a building, the city couldn’t stop it. Could get support from Cook County.

Waukegan had a law that you could only live in a dwelling with immediate family. Jerry’s group sued and eventually the city had to give in.

The economics of affordable housing initiatives don’t work unless you get a subsidy – of land, most likely. If not, then you have to get grants. Park Ridge may not get block grant funds, but Cook County may and could allocate to this initiative. It is also possible to pursue bequests as a source of funding. A four-unit building would require a subsidy of approximately $40K-$50K per unit. Fundraising is key.

Jerry believes that change can happen locally as well as nationally.

What is the real goal behind promoting affordable housing – is it to bring diversity to Park Ridge or give better housing to a lower income community? The approach might be different depending on this answer. It is important to build coalitions outside of Park Ridge.

Banks could also be partners. Corporations have re-assessed racial inequality as something they want to take up. This change came from the Black Lives Matter protests and a response to the danger posed by Donald Trump.

A way to motivate an institution (police, elected body) is to identify who is doing it better and challenge Park Ridge to be a leading community.

How do you assess a community’s needs?

Train how to interview, listen, and assess what has been heard

  1. What is the immediate impact on people’s lives?
  2. How can the goal be defined in a specific way?
  3. Is the goal realizable?

If the goal is to increase diversity in Park Ridge, some of the approaches might be:

  • define diversity broadly and address each front
  • invite people in
  • educate
  • work through existing relationships with sister churches
  • advocate for housing diversity

The next Diversity Discussion Group–February 24th at 7:00.

Next General Action Ridge meeting – March 24th at 7:00.

The topic will likely be a workshop with the Institute for Nonviolence Chicago

Meeting concluded at 8:39pm

Respectfully submitted by Alissa Goldwasser and Nan Parson

Featured

Upcoming Meeting ~ 2.11.21

Our next speaker in our series on Building the Beloved Community is unable to make it as planned for this General Meeting. Instead, we are encouraging members to tune into a zoom call being held by Dr. Ben Collins, Principal of Maine South, and his staff.  They have been working hard to build a more Beloved Community at Maine South and want to report on their progress and are seeking our support. The changes made at Maine South raise our spirits and give us hope for a more Beloved Community right here in Park Ridge; so please read the note from Dr. Collins below and join him and his team on the 11th, at 6:30.

For a link to the call, please contact actionridge2017@gmail.com.

 From Dr. Collins:

I hope this message finds your family healthy and managing this challenging time well. We are working hard to navigate this year for our students at Maine South and to grow into a better and more caring environment for all students and staff… This
special meeting happening … will address where our school is at with our efforts towards equity, inclusion, diversity and anti-racism. We have a banner that will go up soon which has been designed by our students. We are also deep into staff training and have instituted some direct actions this year because of student listening sessions. All of these efforts will be discussed, including plans for the future. 


For this work to be successful, we need engaged and committed community members to help us in our journey. We need you!

Featured

Transcript of Guest Interview with Bernardine Dohrn (BD) & Bill Ayers (BA) January 27, 2021

NOTE: To request an audio file of this guest interview, please email actionridge2017@gmail.com.

Guest Interview 

Bernardine Dohrn (BD) 

  • Impressed with Action Ridge’s organization and commitment to social justice. 
  • Went to Washington four years ago to protest Hillary Clinton’s policies as presumed winner of the 2016 presidential election. Ended up as counter demonstrators to a Trump rally. 
  • Women’s March the following day – serious, silly, inventive, jubilant. Came back invigorated and inspired to talk with neighbors. Left leaflets on block to invite people to brunch to talk about what to do next. Learned that neighbors they had known for years were active in many different efforts to improve the world. 

Bill Ayers (BA) 

  • Admires Action Ridge’s efforts to build a beloved community. Part of democracy is talking to others and inviting people in to dialogue.  
  • There is the saying “If you’re not pissed off, you’re not paying attention.” But if all you are is angry, you can’t build the kind of networks and community to move forward.  
  • Cycle of effective activism: 
  • Open your eyes…to what exists in the world beyond your own experience. 
  • Be astonished… by beauty and suffering. 
  • Do something. 
  • Rethink…the actions you took and the circumstances that now exist. 
  • “Open your eyes” is something that has to be done continually, not just once. Don’t be smug and assume you know the path. Knowing comes with a burden. 
  • “Be astonished” means don’t normalize injustice. Don’t take for granted that we see homeless kids; respond to the horror of it. 
  • “Rethink” – begin process again. Believes that they failed in their youth to rethink. 
  • Progressive people get caught up in thinking that politics is about elections. Believes in voting, but we spend too much time looking at sites of power we don’t have access to (government) and ignoring the sites of power we do have access to (religious institutions, universities, community centers.) 
  • Change comes not from hearts on top, but from fire below.  Obama, Roosevelt and Lincoln all changed positions because of pressure bubbling up from grassroots sources. 

AR: How have conditions for social justice change changed in the past several decades? 

BD 

  • Movements have coalesced in Chicago for the past thirty years. Immigration rights, Women’s march, BLM, coalitions that Barbara Ransby put together. Chicago has been a hotbed of activism and thoughtfully intersectional. 

BA 

  • Bill and Bernardine are not nostalgic, but he still holds his membership card from Students for a Democratic Society.  They are of the present. Learn from young people.  
  • R3 is 36 organizations that meet and hammer out common interests. Struggle for black freedom – upsurge is bigger than they have ever seen. 
  • Now is what matters. Looking forward is what matters. Link arms in solidarity – not in service or charity. James Baldwin taught that white people will be freed when Black liberation is realized — freed from privilege. 
  • When Occupy movement happened, it accomplished a lot. Raised the question of the 1%. No one had presented it like that. Movements are places of public education. Creating a public square is necessary. Learning together and making mistakes together. 

BD:  

  • Wouldn’t have imagined the emboldened and out front white supremacist activity three years ago; seeing a new power of neo-facism and white supremacy.  

AR: How do you stay motivated and energized to continue the work of social justice? 

BA 

  • Movements have created changes, like the end of death penalty.  
  • They weren’t active in the movement but were disgusted by celebratory environment around John Wayne Gacy’s impending execution. Went to Statesville prison and found very few people there of like minds. Bill had never felt more marginalized. A few years later, George Ryan cleared death row. BA’s mindset wasn’t winning the issue, it was about preserving our humanity. 

BD:  

  • Larry Marshall wanted to have conference of people who were exonerated from death row. Another Kind of Innocence effort was around juvenile justice. Launched effort to end juvenile death penalty (having committed crime under 18) but didn’t want to redirect efforts to abolish death penalty. Stayed away from states that were on the way to do that. 

BA 

  • Reframed the idea of juvenile life without parole – “Sentenced to die in prison.” 

AR: What is the legacy you hope to leave and value most highly? 

BA 

  • Family – sons, grandchildren, and each other. 
  • After controversy during the Obama campaign, wrote for therapy and published “Public Enemy”, which is really a book about parenting. 

BD 

  • After kids left, they cared for their parents.  

AR: Are there practical tools you use to keep yourself motivated and inspiring youth? 

BA 

  • Youth inspire THEM. 
  • They are personally happy and the world is broken. Necessary to put yourself proximate to the suffering you see.  
  • Their work is challenging the dominant narrative – white superiority and Black inferiority. 
  • Have to stay hopeful, not optimistic, because that implies you know what outcome will be. The day before the revolution, it is unthinkable. Looking back, it is inevitable. 
  • When Jon Burge was convicted of torturing Black men into convictions is sparked a movement for reparations.  BLM took it over the top. City apologized and paid reparations. Amazing accomplishment happened because many movements came together. 

AR: White people are trapped in history we don’t understand. What is the danger of being too passive or too active?  

BD 

  • Reminder that we as white people need to check in with others on a regular basis.  
  • Benefits of white supremacy requires us to use the steps Bill articulated. 
  • There is peril in not getting buy-in from everyone who is a stakeholder to an issue, but is not a reason for inaction.  
  • Going back and evaluating consequences of actions is important. 

BA 

  • The 1619 Project is essential. Trump responded by forming the 1776 commission, report released on MLK day. Has his students read them side by side.  
  • You don’t have to do everything – can you do something? Connect to other somethings. Join with other like-minded people.  

BD 

  • If you are a single issue person, you are vulnerable and weaker.  
  • When two big issues come together you are stronger. Intersectionality – consider how issues are connected. 

BA 

  • Value in reframing the issue 

BD 

  • Corporate interests and military are counter to just society — need to take back everything that makes US a world power to make the country better. Take pentagon budget and put into climate and education. Need to build grass roots power and be wary of corporate power. 

BA 

  • Need to be willing to engage in dialogue 
  • Thinks he is in the majority of the country on the top 10 issues. 
  • Example of speech at the University of Georgia. Hell’s angels took places in the front row to intimidate him. Reframing of issue led to an interesting and substantive conversation.  They went to lunch together to continue the discussion. 

BD 

  • Expect the unexpected. Elimination of cash bail in Illinois – setting agenda for the country. Be ready for opportunities. 

AR: What are the best ways to leverage social media? 

BA 

  • Ask a 10 year old. They are not proficient at using social media 

AR: What advice do you have about how to forward an Affordable Housing agenda after all the actions AR has taken? 

BA 

  • Movement building – research, thinking, engaging others. Rahm Emanual closed schools but proposed cop academy. Young people in Garfield Park asked a different question – what would you do with $95M? Reframe the issue.  

BD 

  • Sports, music, theater – conscious efforts to reach out beyond the obvious and comfort zone can make a difference what you are building and where support comes from. 
  • Witness what youth poets are doing in Chicago at Louder Than A Bomb Youth Poetry Festival – amazing community building fueling movements. 

BA 

  • If Biden is going to champion progressive initiatives it will be due to popular fire from below. Environmental justice advocates got the administration appointments they wanted. Obama was against gay marriage at first;  advocates kept on working and changed the narrative.  

AR: What are resources to teach children about social justice? 

BA 

  • Alison Bechdel published Fun Home and Dykes to Watch Out For. Bechdel test for whether media is anti-sexist – two woman characters that have names and talk to each other about something other than men. 
  • Black Lives Matter in Schools and An Indigenous Peoples History  of the United States for children 
  • (On engaging with people with different world views) Don’t see having a civil conversation with people who want to overthrow the government. Hells Angels experience – usually a way to reframe the issue.  

BD 

  • Humor is also an excellent way to break the ice. 

BA 

  • Lecture is didactic; humor is inclusive. 

BD 

  • Mothers of people on death row were instrumental to overturning death penalty. Humanized the people on death row. 
  • The Feminist on Cellblock Y is a film that humanizes the incarcerated.  

BA 

  • Often accused of being an idealist. He wants to have an ideal that he is looking toward. He is not naïve, wants to learn and see more. 
  • Utopia always moves away as you step towards it. What good is walking toward it? Keeps you walking. Need to love the world enough to keep working to change it. 

Nan thanked Bill and Bernardine and the participants in the discussion. 

She acknowledged Melvin Lars who wrote Just an Ordinary Joe’George and is a host for Civic Dinners.  Sign up on-line for Bridging the Racial Divide. 

Meeting ended at 8:55pm 

Meeting minutes submitted by Alissa Goldwasser and Nan Parson 

Featured

Meeting Minutes ~ 1.27.21

Action Ridge Meeting 

January 27, 2021 

7pm 

Welcome from Liz Swanson and explanation of the plans for the evening 

Ongoing Actions – Nan Parson 

  • Thank you’s to Jackie McNeily, Cynthia Kater, Alissa Goldwasser 
  • Alissa Goldwasser will research and report on law enforcement reaction to the passage of criminal justice reform legislation in Illinois. 
  • Liz Swanson and Nan continue to strategize around having a social justice banner at Maine South, like the other district high schools. 
  • Action Ridge continues to work with NWS4REJ on holding City of Chicago accountable for stipulations of the consent decree. 
  • Noreen Gayford is keeping tabs on gun violence legislation. The BIO bill did not get taken up by the State Senate, but work will continue. 
  • Kristin Berg and Nan continue to forward efforts to create affordable housing with the Planning and Zoning Committee and City Council; partnering with Reclaim the Suburbs 

Upcoming Events – Nan Parson 

  • Next Core Leaders Meeting: February 4 
  • Next General Meeting: February 11 
  • Next Discussion Group: February 24 
  • Mike McGovern is working with Better Arguments Project (building better civic conversations); Action   Ridge could possibly have a training on February 11. 
  • General meeting in March may focus on the election. 

Introductions of Guest Speakers – Valerie Halston and Fran Stott 

Bill Ayers is an educator and activist who has written many books on education, race, and social justice. He blogs on his website (bilayers.org) and produces a podcast called Under the Tree

Bernardine Dohrn is an activist, educator, legal scholar, and children’s  and women’s rights advocate. She was formerly a law professor at Northwestern University where she started the Children and Family Justice Center. 

Guest Interview 

Bernardine Dohrn (BD) 

  • Impressed with Action Ridge’s organization and commitment to social justice. 
  • Went to Washington four years ago to protest Hillary Clinton’s policies as presumed winner of the 2016 presidential election. Ended up as counter demonstrators to a Trump rally. 
  • Women’s March the following day – serious, silly, inventive, jubilant. Came back invigorated and inspired to talk with neighbors. Left leaflets on block to invite people to brunch to talk about what to do next. Learned that neighbors they had known for years were active in many different efforts to improve the world. 

Bill Ayers (BA) 

  • Admires Action Ridge’s efforts to build a beloved community. Part of democracy is talking to others and inviting people in to dialogue.  
  • There is the saying “If you’re not pissed off, you’re not paying attention.” But if all you are is angry, you can’t build the kind of networks and community to move forward.  
  • Cycle of effective activism: 
  • Open your eyes…to what exists in the world beyond your own experience. 
  • Be astonished… by beauty and suffering. 
  • Do something. 
  • Rethink…the actions you took and the circumstances that now exist. 
  • “Open your eyes” is something that has to be done continually, not just once. Don’t be smug and assume you know the path. Knowing comes with a burden. 
  • “Be astonished” means don’t normalize injustice. Don’t take for granted that we see homeless kids; respond to the horror of it. 
  • “Rethink” – begin process again. Believes that they failed in their youth to rethink. 
  • Progressive people get caught up in thinking that politics is about elections. Believes in voting, but we spend too much time looking at sites of power we don’t have access to (government) and ignoring the sites of power we do have access to (religious institutions, universities, community centers.) 
  • Change comes not from hearts on top, but from fire below.  Obama, Roosevelt and Lincoln all changed positions because of pressure bubbling up from grassroots sources. 

AR: How have conditions for social justice change changed in the past several decades? 

BD 

  • Movements have coalesced in Chicago for the past thirty years. Immigration rights, Women’s march, BLM, coalitions that Barbara Ransby put together. Chicago has been a hotbed of activism and thoughtfully intersectional. 

BA 

  • Bill and Bernardine are not nostalgic, but he still holds his membership card from Students for a Democratic Society.  They are of the present. Learn from young people.  
  • R3 is 36 organizations that meet and hammer out common interests. Struggle for black freedom – upsurge is bigger than they have ever seen. 
  • Now is what matters. Looking forward is what matters. Link arms in solidarity – not in service or charity. James Baldwin taught that white people will be freed when Black liberation is realized — freed from privilege. 
  • When Occupy movement happened, it accomplished a lot. Raised the question of the 1%. No one had presented it like that. Movements are places of public education. Creating a public square is necessary. Learning together and making mistakes together. 

BD:  

  • Wouldn’t have imagined the emboldened and out front white supremacist activity three years ago; seeing a new power of neo-facism and white supremacy.  

AR: How do you stay motivated and energized to continue the work of social justice? 

BA 

  • Movements have created changes, like the end of death penalty.  
  • They weren’t active in the movement but were disgusted by celebratory environment around John Wayne Gacy’s impending execution. Went to Statesville prison and found very few people there of like minds. Bill had never felt more marginalized. A few years later, George Ryan cleared death row. BA’s mindset wasn’t winning the issue, it was about preserving our humanity. 

BD:  

  • Larry Marshall wanted to have conference of people who were exonerated from death row. Another Kind of Innocence effort was around juvenile justice. Launched effort to end juvenile death penalty (having committed crime under 18) but didn’t want to redirect efforts to abolish death penalty. Stayed away from states that were on the way to do that. 

BA 

  • Reframed the idea of juvenile life without parole – “Sentenced to die in prison.” 

AR: What is the legacy you hope to leave and value most highly? 

BA 

  • Family – sons, grandchildren, and each other. 
  • After controversy during the Obama campaign, wrote for therapy and published “Public Enemy”, which is really a book about parenting. 

BD 

  • After kids left, they cared for their parents.  

AR: Are there practical tools you use to keep yourself motivated and inspiring youth? 

BA 

  • Youth inspire THEM. 
  • They are personally happy and the world is broken. Necessary to put yourself proximate to the suffering you see.  
  • Their work is challenging the dominant narrative – white superiority and Black inferiority. 
  • Have to stay hopeful, not optimistic, because that implies you know what outcome will be. The day before the revolution, it is unthinkable. Looking back, it is inevitable. 
  • When Jon Burge was convicted of torturing Black men into convictions is sparked a movement for reparations.  BLM took it over the top. City apologized and paid reparations. Amazing accomplishment happened because many movements came together. 

AR: White people are trapped in history we don’t understand. What is the danger of being too passive or too active?  

BD 

  • Reminder that we as white people need to check in with others on a regular basis.  
  • Benefits of white supremacy requires us to use the steps Bill articulated. 
  • There is peril in not getting buy-in from everyone who is a stakeholder to an issue, but is not a reason for inaction.  
  • Going back and evaluating consequences of actions is important. 

BA 

  • The 1619 Project is essential. Trump responded by forming the 1776 commission, report released on MLK day. Has his students read them side by side.  
  • You don’t have to do everything – can you do something? Connect to other somethings. Join with other like-minded people.  

BD 

  • If you are a single issue person, you are vulnerable and weaker.  
  • When two big issues come together you are stronger. Intersectionality – consider how issues are connected. 

BA 

  • Value in reframing the issue 

BD 

  • Corporate interests and military are counter to just society — need to take back everything that makes US a world power to make the country better. Take pentagon budget and put into climate and education. Need to build grass roots power and be wary of corporate power. 

BA 

  • Need to be willing to engage in dialogue 
  • Thinks he is in the majority of the country on the top 10 issues. 
  • Example of speech at the University of Georgia. Hell’s angels took places in the front row to intimidate him. Reframing of issue led to an interesting and substantive conversation.  They went to lunch together to continue the discussion. 

BD 

  • Expect the unexpected. Elimination of cash bail in Illinois – setting agenda for the country. Be ready for opportunities. 

AR: What are the best ways to leverage social media? 

BA 

  • Ask a 10 year old. They are not proficient at using social media 

AR: What advice do you have about how to forward an Affordable Housing agenda after all the actions AR has taken? 

BA 

  • Movement building – research, thinking, engaging others. Rahm Emanual closed schools but proposed cop academy. Young people in Garfield Park asked a different question – what would you do with $95M? Reframe the issue.  

BD 

  • Sports, music, theater – conscious efforts to reach out beyond the obvious and comfort zone can make a difference what you are building and where support comes from. 
  • Witness what youth poets are doing in Chicago at Louder Than A Bomb Youth Poetry Festival – amazing community building fueling movements. 

BA 

  • If Biden is going to champion progressive initiatives it will be due to popular fire from below. Environmental justice advocates got the administration appointments they wanted. Obama was against gay marriage at first;  advocates kept on working and changed the narrative.  

AR: What are resources to teach children about social justice? 

BA 

  • Alison Bechdel published Fun Home and Dykes to Watch Out For. Bechdel test for whether media is anti-sexist – two woman characters that have names and talk to each other about something other than men. 
  • Black Lives Matter in Schools and An Indigenous Peoples History  of the United States for children 
  • (On engaging with people with different world views) Don’t see having a civil conversation with people who want to overthrow the government. Hells Angels experience – usually a way to reframe the issue.  

BD 

  • Humor is also an excellent way to break the ice. 

BA 

  • Lecture is didactic; humor is inclusive. 

BD 

  • Mothers of people on death row were instrumental to overturning death penalty. Humanized the people on death row. 
  • The Feminist on Cellblock Y is a film that humanizes the incarcerated.  

BA 

  • Often accused of being an idealist. He wants to have an ideal that he is looking toward. He is not naïve, wants to learn and see more. 
  • Utopia always moves away as you step towards it. What good is walking toward it? Keeps you walking. Need to love the world enough to keep working to change it. 

Nan thanked Bill and Bernardine and the participants in the discussion. 

She acknowledged Melvin Lars who wrote Just an Ordinary Joe’George and is a host for Civic Dinners.  Sign up on-line for Bridging the Racial Divide. 

Meeting ended at 8:55pm 

Meeting minutes submitted by Alissa Goldwasser and Nan Parson 

Featured

Residential Tenant Landlord Ordinance Passes!

On January 28, 2021, Cook County Commissioners voted unanimously to extend protections to 245,000+ suburban renter households in Cook County! The Residential Tenant Landlord Ordinance (RTLO) will:Create safeguards against illegal lockouts and guidance on when a landlord can enter a unit Create procedures for withholding rent until building problems are addressed. Protect against lease terms that waive the basic tenant right to notices. Prevent landlords from charging outrageous late fees for late rent payments. Prohibit excessive security deposits and certain non-refundable “move-in” fees…and more. The RTLO goes into effect June 1; however, the anti-lockout provision takes effect immediately.For thirty years, renters living in Chicago, Evanston, and Mount Prospect have benefited from municipal ordinances defining basic tenant-landlord rights and responsibilities. Now, the Residential Tenant Landlord Ordinance (RTLO) will protect suburban Cook County renters, as well.Overall, the proposed ordinance clarifies the roles and responsibilities for both renters and landlords—making the rental landscape easier and fairer to navigate for everyone.
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Featured

June 2020 Letter to Editor

‘No one is free when others are oppressed.’ Martin Luther King Jr.

We are Action Ridge and our purpose is to promote principles of democracy: inclusion, respect, equity and the health of our planet.  We believe that truth matters. The truth is that racism is wrong, painful and hurts everyone.  The truth is racism exists and denying it and blaming others does nothing to change the truth or the systems that perpetuate policies of injustice. 

In 2016, the divisive, fear mongering, and oppressive tactics seen in the presidential campaign shifted many of our perspectives.  A few of us pledged to work together to affect change.  And so we formed the social activist group, open to all, now known as Action Ridge.  As a group and individually we work to build a Beloved Community in Park Ridge and beyond. 

As mostly white, middle class and middle or upper aged individuals, we acknowledge our lack of understanding of what our sisters and brothers of color face every day.  We do know that for each person brutally treated and killed because of racial bias, the pain grows and radiates outward.  The names George, Ahmaud, Breonna, and many others, are now tragically familiar and each represents a family, a story, a beloved life lost.  We grieve and hurt with our sisters and brothers of color.

Our goal is to continue to respect, include, see & listen to each other.  But, importantly, we act.  Some of our actions include a diversity group learning about racial injustices, working on fair and affordable housing practices in our community, advocating to reduce gun violence and more.  Please join us at actionridge2017@gmail.com to stand with us in action against racial injustice.

Nan Parson and Liz Swanson

General Meeting ~ May 13, 2021

Panel on Law Enforcement in Park Ridge and Criminal Justice Reform in Illinois

Join our panel as they discuss local police policies regarding teens, improving public safety through social justice, actions for racial equity and the Illinois SAFE-T ACT. Email actionridge2017@gmail.com for a Zoom link to join the meeting. Please submit questions in advance to alyssasays@gmail.com.

Meeting Minutes ~ 4.8.21

US House passes most ambitious police reform effort in decades | US  Congress | Source: The Guardian

Meeting commenced at 7:00pm.

Nan Parson welcomed participants, especially Melvin Lars, who was the meeting’s featured speaker.

Nan reminded people to submit comments to the Park Ridge City Planning and Zoning Commission to encourage affordable housing to be included in the Park Ridge Comprehensive Plan. Letters can be sent to John Carlisle jcarlisle@parkridge.us.

To attend the meeting on April 13 at 7pm, register at https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/7015097904321120782 .

Patricia Lofthouse overviewed a bill introduced by Senator Laura Murphy concerning ranked-choice voting (SB1785). This bill provides “that members of the General Assembly and the offices of Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, Comptroller, and Treasurer shall be elected by ranked-choice voting.” There are also ranked-choice voting initiatives in the City of Chicago and at 90+ universities. The bill was amended to include primary, state and national elections. Pat will be sending out witness slips.

The organization supporting ranked-choice voting, Fair Vote Illinois, has many meetings coming up. Pat encouraged members to attend if interested. Ranked-choice voting ensures that the winner of the election will have at least 51% of the vote. It brings more voters in, decreases negative campaigning, and gives voters more options to voice preferences.

George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021
Melvin Lars (ML) has been involved in advocating for the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act and knows the family of George Perry Floyd. The House passed the bill on March 3, 2021.

The main tenets of the bill are:
● Ban chokeholds
● Ban no-knock warrants
● Establish a national misconduct registry
● Collect data on use of deadly force
● Limit the use of deadly force only as a last resort
● Establish duty to intervene standards
● Mandate the use of body and dash cameras
● Establish national standards for law enforcement
● Invest in public grants to reimagine policing
● Strengthen patterns and practices investigations
● Make lynching a hate crime

There are 14 proposed amendments in all, four were addressed by Senate, only one by the administration
Last year, passed House by overwhelming vote, then sat on Mitch McConnell’s desk.
This year, passed the House again, hasn’t come to a vote in the Senate.
It is unclear if the trial of Derek Chauvin, the police officer accused of murdering George Floyd, will affect the course of the Act.
Defense is trying to show cause for someone to be murdered.
The family and community aren’t looking for anything that isn’t provided for in the Constitution.

Kate Kerin
Coalition of attorneys general urged congress to pass the bill. Will it have an impact?

ML
Not comfortable that the Senate will move forward. It’s hard to think that anything will change.

Joan Bludeau-LaVelle
Doctor’s testimony made it clear that it was a murder. Could it change the trajectory of the Bill?

ML
Testimony could do just that. He acknowledged that this was contradictory to his previous answer.

Joel Liveris
Why isn’t Melvin angry?

ML
He is angry. Just wants to be himself, not to be identified by race. Growing up in the Jim Crow South, he faced and faces racism all the time.

Question (from unidentified person)
The blue code was broken by officers testifying at the murder trial. Could this make a difference in other areas where police are unwilling to call each other out?

ML
ML’s 22-year-old cousin wanted to be a police officer. He couldn’t pass the psychological test. He figured out how to pass the test and became an officer anyway. Change is likely to be difficult.

Nan
Policing in Park Ridge is the topic of discussion for the May 13 Action Ridge meeting.
Action Ridge is taking stronger action and also getting some pushback. But we have to act locally to change things.

ML
Frustrated by the fallacy of Black people as lazy and not hard working. His experience growing up in the deep South was the opposite; community worked extremely hard for ridiculously low wages. His self-published book Just an Ordinary Joe’George discusses his story and those of his family members who have been successful in a range of professions. These profiles are juxtaposed with the names of young Black people who were killed and an open question about what their futures could have been. To purchase ML’s book, email him at abrighterfuture91@gmail.com.

Nan
The Action Ridge discussion group is reading Caste. ML also recommends The New Jim Crow and his own book.

The group said goodbye to Mr. Lars at 7:45 and those who preferred not to take part in the business part of the agenda, left the meeting.

Business Meeting
Liz Swanson and Nan started Action Ridge four years ago with intent to just have programs once a month. However, Action Ridge as evolved into a more influential entity, known for the progressive point of view of the members of the group. Now Nan and Liz suggest that in order to ensure the longevity of the organization, to spread out the responsibility for planning programs and to provide more structure, changes need to be made.

A few weeks ago, a small group met to talk about the advisability of adopting a non-profit status. Decided not to file for 501(c)3 or 501(c)4 at this time because it would have created more work for leadership, rather than less.

The question is, can AR establish a structure without incorporation?

Joel Liveris
Could we create a list of tasks so that people would know how to divide the responsibility?

Nan
They are considering establishing a board with officers and term limits. Go Green Park Ridge has a board. They meet to report to each other and then go off and do their own work. League of Women’s Voters is very different — very structured and has a board and state and national structure that guides the local group.

Alissa
Could core leaders group take on more of a role as a leadership team that does planning for the long-term?

Kristin Berg
Perhaps mission statement could be a little more focused. Could there be committees working on issues as well as having speakers? Defining level of action would help determine structure.

Nan
Action Ridge is no longer here just to educate people. It’s time to dedicate to the cause and take action. Institute for Non-violence take-aways were: gather the facts, educate, dedicate to the cause and then take action.

Liz
Mission statement guides us to action. Work to figure out how to take action.

Sue McGovern
Grateful to have met other like-minded people through Action Ridge.

Jeanne
Question of non-partisanship is a good one. Should we consider supporting candidates who share our values?

Linda
Becoming politically involved might affect where we meet (perhaps not in a church).

Liz
Immediate need is a structure, can decide on partisanship question after that.

Alissa
Perhaps AR should think about leadership team on a 12-month basis with positions turning over annually so people don’t feel like they are taking on too much.

Joel
Would like to volunteer to be point person for climate initiative.

Kate
Flexibility has been Action Ridge’s strong suit — addressing topics in a timely manner. We have a Core Leader’s meeting scheduled for May 6th in which we can consider these questions.

Alissa
Sketching out a 12-month plan while being willing to deviate, if necessary, might provide the combination of structure and flexibility needed.

Liz
At the Core Leaders meeting on May 6th, we can draft a structure and plan to share with the larger group at the next general meeting. The decision was made to continue this discussion on May 6th.

Meeting ended at 8:38pm

Mark Your Calendars

A look ahead at the next few months:

Affordable Housing Action Group, Next Meeting — April 1st at 7:00. Nan and Kristin have organized an Affordable Housing Action Group which met for the first time on Thursday, 3/25. The group agreed to take a strong stand in support of increasing lower cost housing. If you would like to be part of this effort, contact Kristin or Nan at actionridge2017@gmail.com.

Restructuring Team, Next Meeting — April 8th at 7:00. In February, a small group met to discuss the possible restructuring of Action Ridge. They acknowledged that Action Ridge has evolved into an influential and important force in the City and agreed that now is the time to consider restructuring and preparing for longevity and decided to bring the issue to the larger group. If Action Ridge is important in your lives, please contribute to making plans for the future by joining that discussion on 4/8 at 7:00.

Discussion Group, Next Meeting — April 28 at 7:00. The Action Ridge Discussion Group will talk about the book Caste by Isabel Wilkerson. The library is in the process of buying a set of the books, which we will be able to borrow soon. If you haven’t already, please let us know if you’d like a book and want to join the discussion on the 28th.

General Meeting — May 13th at 7:00. Alissa Goldwasser is going to lead a follow-up discussion of local and statewide policing practices. You may know that the Pretrial Justice Act passed recently and was signed by the governor. This bill is complicated and some, including our Police Chief, think it needs revision. Other policing topics may also be addressed. So, as promised, we’re going to continue our Policing in Park Ridge discussion in May.

Quarterly Summary – Q1 2021

In January and February, we heard from 3 experienced community organizers, who come from quite different backgrounds and use different approaches for creating change.  (See posts below for details.) We learned some unique things from each one; but they had in common one strong message, which was that in order to create change, we need to take action, not just talk the talk.  

Therefore, during the last meeting in our series in March, we engaged in a workshop with The Institute of Non-Violence Chicago in order to learn how Martin Luther King walked the walk.  The Institute’s team of four outlined MLK’s Principles of Non-Violence and ended by listing these 6 steps toward creating change.  

  1. Learn the facts.  
  2. Offer education.  
  3. Become devoted to the cause.  
  4. Negotiate.  
  5. Take direct action.  
  6. Reconcile.  

We are in different places on this continuum with several of our initiatives.  Our goal is to take direct action on all of them.  

During these last few weeks, because we know that an important way to create change is to elect candidates whose values align with ours, in addition to anti-racist programming, we focused on the local elections. On March 11th, we sponsored an Introduction to the Candidates’ evening. The candidates’ written responses to our questions as well as the recording of the meeting are posted below in Meetings & Minutes. And be sure to vote by mail or early now or on April 6th!

General meeting ~ March 24th

We are excited to welcome the Institute for Nonviolence Chicago to join us for our next Action Ridge gathering.  You will not want to miss this workshop on Building the Beloved Community through Dr. King’s principles of peacemaking and understanding.  Please mark your calendars to join us next Wednesday, 3/24 from 7:00 to 9:00.  An email with the Zoom link will be coming out closer to time. If you aren’t a member and would like to join the Zoom call, please email actionridge2017@gmail.com.

Candidate Statements

We invited every local candidate running in the April 6th election to respond to two questions: Why they’re running for office and what actions would they take to create inclusion, respect and equity in Park Ridge, in general, and in the specific areas of affordable housing, policing policies and creating a welcoming environment in the schools and community at large? Below are their responses.

Please note: For any candidates not listed, we did not receive a response to our request for a statement.

City Clerk – one elected from 2 running

City Council – one elected for the 2nd Ward

Park District – 4 openings

School Board District 207 – 4 openings 

School Board District 64 – 4 openings

Harmony Harrington–Unopposed Candidate for Alderperson

Appreciate the focus on equity and inclusion in your questions posed to candidates, much of my “day” job is focused on health equity so I hope to bring that experience to my role on the Council. Additionally, as I hope I have led by my work and service on our Park Board, respect and inclusion should be modeled by those of us public servants being open to hearing from diverse community voices on key policy issues – the beauty of democracy.

Thanks for the opportunity and look forward to serving on our City Council, being an advocate for not just the residents of the 4th Ward, but all in our city, as we progress and heal from the impacts of this past year and move our City forward. 

Marty Maloney–Unopposed Candidate for Mayor

I am fortunate this election cycle that I am not facing an opponent to serve as Mayor for an additional term. I have served Park Ridge as Mayor for the last six years, a term as Alderman, and two terms on the Park Board prior to that.  I am grateful for the opportunities that I have been given, and will continue to bring the same approach to the job that I did my first day on the Park Board. 

Inclusion, respect, and equity have been principles that were keystones to my personality long before I ever asked for the chance to serve in public office and will remain long after I leave those roles.  I am confident that while some will disagree with individual decisions I have made during my time in office, there would be no disputing that inclusion, respect, and equity, along with kindness, dedication, and equanimity were core values for me in these roles, and on display to our community.

Rick Biagi–Unopposed Candidate for Alderperson

I have learned so much about governing over the past decade and have had the great privilege of serving alongside so many remarkable people who care deeply about our city, our parks and our schools.  Good government isn’t simply about “giving back” to one’s community – indeed, while that is an admirable endeavor, the more challenging role of local elected officials is to ask hard questions, to take actions based on integrity more than popularity, to give staff the support and resources they deserve while holding them accountable for their actions, and to serve the community with distinction, honesty, integrity, and civility.  Those qualities have been the bedrock of my service in office and I plan to bring those qualities to the City Council.

I have been honored to serve in elected office in Park Ridge for the past twelve years (on the Park District and District 64 Boards) and the voters of our community are certainly familiar with me and my record.  Thus, I would prefer not to monopolize the time talking about myself and instead, cede my time to those candidates that are running in contested elections.

Maine Township Democratic Candidates

Please note: For any candidates not listed, we did not receive a response to our request for a statement.

Karen Dimond – Candidate for Supervisor

1. I have lived in Maine Township for over 30 years and have served on the boards of local government bodies within it, such as School District 63 and the Niles-Maine Library Board.  I would now like to serve the greater area of Maine Township because I think the Maine Township government can knit together and coordinate the services provided by the township and the municipalities that have grown up within it, while at the same time making sure that the unincorporated areas do not fall through the gaps between cities and villages.

2. I think the fact that the Democratic ticket, which is made up of residents who have run as Democrats AND as Republicans in the past, sets an example as to how residents can leave partisanship behind and work together for the betterment of the community.  I would like the Board, in its meetings and in its events, to encourage inclusion, respect and equity.  I would also like the Board to strive to (1) support programs that will allow residents to find quality affordable housing in Maine Township, (2) continue the neighborhood Watch program and invite guests from all of the Police Departments to meet with residents, and (3) expand the distribution of welcome packets to new residents.

Susan Moylan-KreyCandidate for Maine Township Assessor

1. I have been Maine Township Assessor since 2014. I would continue services for our residents, whether it be to apply for exemptions for filing appeals. Ensuring that residents receive all the exemptions they are entitled to, my office has saved Maine Township’s residents close to $ 3 Million during my last 4 years in office.

2. I’m honored to assist our veterans that have a service related disability, the opportunity to help file the Veteran with Disabilities Exemption.
With many Cook County offices being closed during the pandemic, customer service was my top priority, as residents were more than ever in need of assistance. Of course we all need to pay taxes, but they should be equitable for all residents.

Pete Gialamas – Candidate for Maine Township Clerk

1. I have always enjoyed being an active part of my community. To me, it is important that I lead by example. I want my daughter to know it is essential to give back to the community where you live. I have a long record of civic involvement dating back to 2003 when I was appointed to the Des Plaines Zoning Board of Appeals. 

2. Maine Township serves a very culturally diverse population and I feel it is paramount that everyone feel welcome and safe. I have served as the committeeman for Maine Township’s award winning National Night Out against Crime for the last 7 years. It is a wonderful evening where members of the community can come out to meet and engage with their elected officials as well as representatives from the Cook County Sheriff’s Department. We work very closely with the Sheriff’s Department who is responsible for policing Maine Township’s large unincorporated area. They attend our monthly Neighborhood Watch meetings where residents can express their ideas and concerns.

Ed Beauvais  – Candidate for Maine Township Highway Commissioner

1. I am running for office because I come from a very service orientated family and learned from an early age to be the change you wish to see in your community and country. I am a firm believer in having to be on the field in order to pick up the fumble. Local communities are the fabric of this country, so making our piece of the world the best place it can be begins with us. More specifically for the Maine Township Highway Commissioner position I am seeking; I sincerely love the construction component of the job. Making sure the roughly 50 lane miles of roads, sewers, curbs and sidewalks meet the standard of quality of life that we all expect is very important to me.

I worked at the Highway Department seasonally for 10 years and had to privilege of learning the job from the ground up. Through my experience as a construction laborer, in budgeting, snow removal, flood clean up/volunteering and as a code official, one thing that makes it all work are people. Working with residents, township and other governmental agencies requires compromise and a willingness to work together. Whether locally or nationally, this country needs this more than ever right now.

My goal is to work for and be available to the residents whenever they may need assistance. I would encourage voters to do their due diligence when researching candidates in this or any election. Hopefully they will see that I am the best person for the job and I can earn their support in my candidacy for Highway Commissioner. 

2.  Maine Township is one of the largest unincorporated areas in the State of Illinois making up a large group of people from all walks of life. As Highway Commissioner, I will make it a point to meet with and be available to the residents of the various neighborhoods in the Township to brainstorm about beautification projects the Highway Department can be involved with to improve our neighborhood image.

I will also seek to obtain additional grant funding to assist with the all so common issue of flood control and work to ease congested street parking where applicable. Another top priority will be to work closely with Township Code Enforcement to uphold the community standards we all set. 

One of the biggest strengths of Maine Township is its social programs that do so much for the  local population within its boundaries. I will continue to support Maine Townships youth, family and senior programs, food pantry, and general assistance as much as I possibly can. The staff at Maine Township do an amazing job for those who need it and elected officials need to support them however possible!

Kelly Maron Horvath  – Candidate for Maine Township Trustee

1. I’ve always been interested in serving the public. I grew up in a law enforcement and government family. I became a high school teacher, later transitioning to a manager at a large public library. In recent years, I’ve become increasingly interested in politics at a micro level, creating a popular community group called Des Plaines Forward, to expand community engagement in local politics.

Initially, I had a lot of fears and self-doubt when first running, assuming only lawyers and doctors or lifelong politicians served on boards. I was just a mom who had left her full time career to start a small business and take care of my kids. But I soon realized that we need more moms running for office. Moms fix things. We need small business owners and educators alongside the doctors and lawyers. We need people that reflect different parts of our community, to be the ones helping to make it better.

As someone who has kids doing remote and hybrid learning, who has a husband that is an essential worker, and whose small business has been shuttered because of Covid, I face several of the same issues that have impacted so many residents in Maine Township. There are so many crucial services available to the residents that many aren’t even aware of and it is my goal to increase the visibility in the community of those vital resources.

2. I am fortunate to be running with a bipartisan slate whose only goal is to help the diverse population of Maine Township. With one of the largest unincorporated areas in the state, the Township ensures that those residents are represented and have a voice as well as providing valuable services to ALL residents in Maine Township. The first step is making sure residents are aware of the resources available such as general assistance for families in need, mental health services, senior aid, youth programs, a food pantry, and grants for many local nonprofits that help extend our aid into the community.

As a former educator, a welcoming culture within the schools is also very important to me and I applaud the students and administration who fought to have banners of inclusivity hung at their high schools. Those are not just messages for the students but for everyone driving by, that Maine Township, our township, values everyone. I believe that it is important for our elected officials to be fiscally prudent but I also think it is necessary for them to be compassionate. It is that balance that I aim to bring back to township government. 

Kimberly Jones – Candidate for Maine Township Trustee

1. My decision to run for re-election as a Maine Township Trustee is grounded in my desired commitment to continue on the path of public service.  I have dedicated my adult life to public service, both professionally as a State regulator and publicly, serving as a Park Ridge Alderman, a Maine Township Trustee and also serving on the Park Ridge Flood Control Task Force.   I would appreciate the opportunity to continue to serve my community working to improve the lives of all Maine Township residents and families.

2. Maine Township is the second largest township in the State of Illinois.  As such, we are fortunate to have a community which is rich with many different ethnicities and cultures.  Maine Township is a welcoming and inclusive community that offers a vast array of services including but not limited to, teen mentoring, property tax assessments, mental health treatment, passport issuance and programs which aid young adults recovering from substance abuse.  

The Township also supports many different social service agencies that provide care to our residents in the following areas; low-income early child care, after school programs, physical and sexual abuse treatment, services for people with disabilities, senior services, meals on wheels and housing assistance just to name a few.

My view of Maine Township is analogous to a quilt made of many rich textures and diverse backgrounds. Each square is beautiful in and of itself but when sewn together into one quilt it is an extraordinary patchwork of many different cultural representations coming together and living in one community side-by-side.

Asif Malik – Candidate for Maine Township Trustee

1. While there are many reasons to pursue an elected office, mine are quite simple and straightforward. As an immigrant I see things from a broader perspective because of shared experiences. The ethnic, cultural, and linguistic landscape of our communities has changed, and many members of the community feel excluded or ignored. My motivation is to bring these underserved and often invisible members into the light and acknowledge their skills and abilities. In addition, I believe in service and paying it forward.

As an elected official I will have a large platform to serve and look forward to paying it forward to residents in the Township. Lastly, I strongly believe that governing and decision-making bodies ought to reflect those who make up our community and it’s diverse residents.

2. One must build one’s own cultural competencies to build an inclusive community and inclusive leadership style by listening, respecting diversity, and engaging all members of the community in the decisions that will impact them. As an elected official I will reach out to the community to listen and provide solutions to their concerns.

Respect is and must always be all encompassing entity in all spheres of civic life. Residents must feel safe, protected, and respected. I believe in professional development and cultural awareness training for all municipal employees on a consistent basis.

Schools and school systems must not be intimidating for newly arrived or bilingual parents. The navigation process must be facilitated, and all students must feel welcome and safe in schools. The Township must create opportunities and events for all communities to interact with elected officials, the police and fire department along with school personnel in informal settings. These events will provide an opportunity for mutual understanding and develop a mutual appreciation and respect for the services in the township.

Maine Township – Republican Candidates

Please note: For any candidates not listed, we did not receive a response to our request for a statement.

Alicia Bailey – Candidate for Maine Township Trustee

1. For the past twelve months, I have been one of only two members of the general public regularly attending the monthly Maine township board meetings.    Attending these monthly board meetings has given me strong insight into Maine township’s affairs, including its opportunities and challenges.   At the February meeting, the board voted to abate taxes for the third year in a row.    While abating money to taxpayers is commendable, it is instructive to understand how this situation arose in the first place.

Over a period of several years, the Maine township board levied taxes to residents that exceeded the township’s expenditures, which resulted in the generation of reserves.  With each successive year, the balances of these reserves grew, and ultimately far exceeded recommended government guidelines.   With proper financial management, this situation never would have happened.    Until recently, our township politicians were truly asleep at the switch and the residents of Maine Township paid the price.

Given this history, I feel strongly that the Maine township board needs leaders with a demonstrated competence in finance and a commitment and passion to serving the needs of our very diverse population.  As a corporate finance professional, with over twenty-five years of progressive accounting, finance, project management, and corporate strategy experience at leading corporations, I feel that I can make a sorely needed contribution to the Maine township board.  Having spent most of my career at an airline, I am very accustomed to finding ways to deliver more with less.  I look forward to the opportunity to serve our township residents with the professionalism, civility, honesty, integrity, transparency, and accountability they deserve.

2. Please see below for the collective response for our Republican Clean Slate for this question

Roger Shubert – Candidate for Maine Township Trustee

1.  Explain why you are choosing to run for office. I have served as the Fourth Ward Alderman on the Park Ridge City Council for the past two terms (eight years) since first becoming an elected official in 2013.  I plan to bring experience and knowledge of public service, successful delivery of municipal programs and services to the residents of Park Ridge, and a deep understanding of capital/operating budgets, tax levies, and staff department practices and procedures to a Trustee role on the Maine Township Board.

I look forward to bringing the same principles of honesty, integrity, accountability, and transparency that I have practiced on the Park Ridge City Council to deliver valuable and efficient services to residents of Maine Township while keeping within our budgetary limits and expectations.  In addition to completing my second and final term on the Park Ridge City Council this spring, I have also attended several Maine Township Board meetings over the past six months to fully immerse myself in the current issues in front of the Board and uncover opportunities to improve transparency, programming, and overall efficiency in the delivery of Township services for residents.

2. Please see below for the collective response for our Republican Clean Slate for this question

J.D. Diganvker – Candidate for Highway Commissioner

1. The Maine Township Highway Commissioner focuses primarily upon maintaining roads and bridges in the unincorporated areas of the Township. Unincorporated Maine Township is also home to many minority communities who are entirely unrepresented on the Maine Township Board.  As a resident of unincorporated Maine Township, and a member of its ethnic community, I am the best candidate to serve this area of the Township.  If elected, my top priority will be to keep roadways open and safe while also acting as a strong steward of hard-earned taxpayer funds.  I plan to lower the tax levy over the next four years to reduce the excess of funds accumulated by my predecessors through over-taxation.  I also plan on regularly meeting with residents of various neighborhoods in the Township to brainstorm about how to improve our government and make it more efficient and inclusive.

2. Please see below for the collective response for our Republican Clean Slate for this question

 Earl Wilson – Candidate for Township Supervisor

1. I’m a family man running for Supervisor of Maine Township. I have been working for years to fight wasteful spending and increase transparency of our governmental bodies. Now, more than ever, our communities are under unprecedented financial and social strain. I can help. 

By trade, I am an Information Technology and strategic consultant. I have experience delivering solutions for diverse industries including Public Sector, Finance, Health Care, Manufacturing, Communications, and Consumer Business. My key strengths include successfully managing complex solutions, people, scope and budgets.  

I served two terms as a Des Plaines Library Board Trustee. As a Trustee, I stood up for what is right by fighting wasteful spending and bringing necessary services to our community. I have invested more than a year participating in the Maine Township board meetings, and I know what problems exist and how to make it better. 

I have an ongoing commitment to equality, inclusion, resilience, and leading by example. I am focused on how we can best serve the community by being good stewards and financially responsible to all residents of Maine Township. Together, we will continue current successful efforts while exploring the best ways to assist taxpayers with transparent, cost conscious solutions. We need leaders willing to step-up and do the things that need to be done. I am ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work on efficiently delivering the essential services to all residents of Maine Township. 

2.  Please see below for the collective response for our Republican Clean Slate for this question

James Stinson Candidate for Maine Township Trustee

1. I believe in public service. Over the last several years, there has been a leadership void at many levels of government and the time is now for citizens to step up and take action to improve their communities. My life has been dedicated to serving others by standing up for what’s right, keeping my promises and being there for people.

Maine Township is at a crossroads and our community needs public servants who will have the courage to streamline spending, lower taxes and build consensus to get things done. As a Certified Financial Planner, I’ve listened to people in our community, understood their goals and developed strategies to get them where they want to go. I’ve helped families and businesses evaluate expenses, prioritize key objectives and plan for the future. I’m eager to serve our community by promoting a culture of civility, transparency, accountability and integrity.

2. Please see below for the collective response for our Republican Clean Slate for this question

The collective response for our Republican Clean Slate to the question:

What actions would you take to create inclusion, respect and equity in Park Ridge, in general, and in the specific areas of affordable housing, policing policies and creating a welcoming environment in the schools and community at large? 

The primary action our township officials can take to promote affordable housing in Maine Township is to create and maintain an efficient township government operation. This will enable the township to minimize the tax levy, which subsequently enables our residents to retain more of their hard-earned paychecks to purchase or rent their home. 

A welcoming, inclusive and respectful environment can be cultivated by making our residents aware of the valuable services that Maine Township already offers, which include our general assistance program, food pantry, senior programs, and mental health services.  Though the residents of Maine Township may acquire services and assistance through state and county government, Maine Township’s government officials and dedicated employees also stand ready and willing to help our residents in need as permitted by statute. 

In regard to respect and equity, our township officials take an oath of office to abide by the law, which includes the equal protection and equal application of the law to everyone. Throughout our daily interactions, we commit to treating all people respectfully and equally.  Any complaints of unequal, inefficient or rude service are taken very seriously and will be investigated accordingly. 

Maine Township has no governance over the municipal police departments that operate within its borders and unincorporated areas, which are currently patrolled by the Cook County Sheriff’s department. Our slate plans to continue supporting our residents in the unincorporated areas with the additional hire-back service for extra coverage.  

Similarly, Maine Township has no governance over the schools that operate within its borders. As such, we have no authority to take action on any education policies, curriculum or personnel matters. 

March 11 Meeting ~ Candidate Forum

On March 11th at 7:00, we will be providing an opportunity for you to hear from every local candidate running in the April 6th election, whether opposed or not.  These include the candidates for Alderperson, City Clerk, Mayor, Park District, D207 and D64.  Each candidate will be given 4 minutes to reply to the questions below on the Zoom call and asked to submit their answers in writing as well.  We have asked the Maine Township Candidates to provide their responses only in writing.  All answers received to these questions will be available on our website following the meeting.  The questions are: 

1.      Explain why you are choosing to run for office.

2.     What actions would you take to create inclusion, respect and equity in Park Ridge, in general, and in the specific areas of affordable housing, policing policies and creating a welcoming environment in the schools and community at large?

We hope all of the candidates will respond in writing and that those who can, will participate in the Zoom call.  Local elections are so important and so often overlooked.  Now’s the time to get to know the candidates so that you can make an informed choice in April.  We’ll be sending the Zoom link closer to the 11th. Please mark your calendars and join in.  Action Ridgers MUST vote!!