League of Women Voters of Oak Park & River Forest Newsletter May 2023 Volume 10 Issue 10

Co-Presidents' Letter

Dear Friends, 

Hello May and a wide-armed welcome to green grass, red tulips, and yellow jonquils! The winter was dark, and we celebrate the time that Ralph Waldon Emerson describes as when “the earth laughs in flowers.” If you’re planning vegetable and flower beds or a pot of balcony herbs, don’t forget to shop at the League’s annual fundraiser at the Good Earth Greenhouse on Friday, May 5 - Sunday, May 7, and be sure to tell them you’re with the League and bring your checkout form for listing the amount paid.

The April 4 elections are behind us. The local newspaper did an outstanding job covering the races, and there was no shortage of spirited letters endorsing one candidate or another. Neighbors stood up to run the race. Our League hosted six successful candidate forums with 1,300 participants. The League’s Illinois Voter’s Guide included information on 6,668 candidates in 3,894 municipal and school board races. The elections were peaceful and secure. The bad news? Several races were uncontested, and voter turnout in two of our three communities was, frankly, dreadful: Oak Park, 18%, and River Forest, 21%; Forest Park, while still low, was better with a 32% voter turnout. The League has work to do. 

We salute everyone who stepped up for democracy and ran for office. One successful April contestant is LWV OPRF member Jessica Voogd, who won a second term as a Forest Park Commissioner. Perhaps it was her work in getting Forest Park recognized as a Tree City USA or her success in passing a plastics ordinance requiring restaurants to make plastic utensils optional. Congratulations Jessica! 

The legislative session concludes this month, and if you were unable to act on Lobby Day, you still have time. Pick your issue and go to the LWV IL Lobby Day guide: Voting Rights, Reproductive Health Care, Environment, Education, Budget, or Criminal Justice. Each issue page has a script, bill numbers, and a link to your legislator's contact information. Go here to access each issue. Use your voice; civic engagement is democracy in action. Thank you to Marilyn Pearson and the Advocacy Committee for interviewing our legislators and to Ann Courter and the other League Issue Specialists for the resulting testimony, legislation, and state budget requests. 

Current affairs can be crushing, but do not overlook democracy’s endeavors. Be inspired by the one thousand plus Tennessean students chanting “You ban books. You ban drags. Kids are still in body bags.” They’re reading the room correctly. Be thankful that the constituents of the outrageously expelled Black legislators returned them to the chamber within a week. Applaud the thousands of high school students who walked out of class at more than three hundred schools in 41 states protesting gun violence: there’re reading the room too. Despite the noise, censorship isn’t popular; a recent Wall Street Journal report found that 61 percent of politically bi-partisan parents were deeply concerned about book bans. A news organization was just ordered to pay three-quarters of a billion dollars to a litigant for spewing election lies. Reproductive rights are not a 50-50 issue; see Janet Protasiewicz’s 11-point blowout victory. Celebrate that the Moms for Liberty school board candidates were largely and roundly defeated across Illinois. Re-charge this summer and what the heck, maybe have a Bud Light and green M and M’s! 

May is the month to remember the military members who defended our nation with their hands, hearts, and lives. So, before lighting the grill, consider joining your neighbors in commemorating these individuals by attending a Memorial Day ceremony: Oak Park will hold one in Scoville Park on May 29 at 11:00, and River Forest will hold its 97th annual Memorial Day parade on May 29 at 9:30 starting from Augusta and Ashland. May your potato salad be creamy and your salmon perfectly grilled! 

In solidarity, 

Jane and Joan 

Plant Sale Coming!

Our Plant Sale Fundraiser is this weekend, May 5-7, at the Good Earth Greenhouse, 7900 Madison, River Forest. LWV OPRF will receive 15% of sales. Simply go to the store, make your purchases, and either bring this checkout form or fill out one that will be available with the cashier. Also, please email Beverly Graham the amount of your purchase. Beautify your yard and help our League at the same time!

Drinks & Dialogue Recap

Drinks & Dialogue had an incredibly moving presentation at Shanahan’s Irish Pub Wednesday evening, April 26. The 19 attendees learned about refugees and their challenges in leaving their

dangerous homeland for a better life. Forging Opportunities for Refugees in America, FORA is an after-school program whose mission is to ensure that refugee families are provided access to

education sufficient to prepare them to become economically self-sufficient and robustly engaged in American civil life. Dr. Kathleen O’Connor, the founder, Ms. Arkhawan Salih, CEO, and Gowri Rao, Communication Coordinator, relayed the struggles and overcoming hardships

through educational assistance. Their stories, mission, and the people they serve are so noble that many attendees are moved to aid in their mission. If you would like to learn more about FORA or donate to their cause, go here.

Sprngtime in the Woods

Celebrate springtime at Thatcher Woods Forest Preserve and Thatcher Woods Pavilion on Sunday, May 7, from Noon-3:00pm. Enjoy interactive programs, kids’ tree climb, guided wildflower walks, bird banding, kid’s nature crafts, and much more! Learn more here.

Election Wrap-up

The League helped create yet another successful Voters Guide for the April elections. By the numbers: the Guide covered 3,894 municipal and school board races; it provided

information on 6,686 candidates; with help from local Leagues, it sent questions to 484 candidates, with 317 responding; and it also included information on 114 local League forums covering 550 candidates. Wow! Our League, in partnership with our local libraries, held six candidate forums for contested elections in Oak Park, River Forest, and Forest Park. In addition, statements from candidates in local uncontested elections were recorded and posted. We had more than 1,300 views of these live and recorded events. If you go to our website's Voter Service page, you can see the results from the elections in Oak Park, River Forest, and Forest Park. Hopefully, our forums helped those citizens who did vote to make a more informed election choice.

LWV UMRR May Newsletter

LWV CC April Newsletter

LWV US April Highlights

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