It’s H(er)story: Maywood Elects First African-American Female Mayor

Edwenna Perkins and Viola Mims
Mayor-elect Perkins hugging clerk-elect Viola Mims

Edwenna Perkins was preparing to leave her impromptu campaign headquarters at T&JJ’s on 5th Avenue when she got a call. The poll results updated online by the Cook County Clerk’s office had her down by 4 percentage points with about 12 precincts reporting. But in a dimly-lit room in the back of Vintage Realty, the headquarters for the All In for Maywood (AIM) ticket, every precinct but two had been tallied by hand, the old-fashioned way. The computer tallies were running slower than Brittany Davis, a young AIM volunteer who’d been assigned the thankless task of tracking the votes of each precinct as they were reported by way of volunteers who would come with printed ballot tapes in their pockets, shivering from the cold.

Brittany Davis Talliies Results from Ballot Tapes
Brittany Davis Tallies Results from Ballot Tapes

Perkins was apparently content enough with her campaign that she was prepared to sleep past the anxiety of waiting for the results to come in online. If someone from the AIM campaign had not called to catch her up and invite her over to their headquarters, she might have slept through history. Instead, she was drenched with applause. Outside, in the damp air of 5th Avenue, Jessie Nolen, an AIM volunteer, reflected on the night’s larger significance. “Sometimes it’s not good to get rid of the old.”

Jessie Nolen
Jessie Nolen outside of a polling location

When asked what parting remarks she wanted to make before she headed home, Mayor-elect Perkins referenced scripture: “The Lord gave me David and his sling shot and one stone, which represents one vote…[He gave me] a calling…and he gave me Gideon’s army-and that was all the difference.”

Edwenna Perkins
Edwenna Perkins in front of Garfield Elementary, hours before victory.



5 thoughts on “It’s H(er)story: Maywood Elects First African-American Female Mayor

  1. What does the low voter turnout reflect in the ‘Age of Obama’ and resurgent nationalized voter suppression initiatives (Less than 20% of registered Maywood voters – voted). Can you blame the weather, too busy to vote, lack of interest in any of the candidates, or simply don’t care. The democratic process allows the electorate to get what you vote for and if you didn’t vote – you get and deserve what you did not vote for. Nevertheless, isn’t it great to participate in a society where those who meet the minimum requirements for elective office vie to lead a democratic constituency and the minority of a majority wins?

    So, Edweena will be sworn in as the President of the Village of Maywood. Now, my question to the citizens and residents of Maywood is what will the next four (4) years look like? Will the Village employee professionalism and moral wain and quality direct services decrease? Will Roberts Rule of Order be the decorum of the Board Meetings? Who will she recommend to replace her seat on the Village Board? Will the majority of the Village Trustees vote to support that candidate? Who will Mrs. Perkins appoint to Village Committees and Commissions? Do you think Edweena will have a positive working relationship with the Village Manager? What type of initiates will she advocate for economic and community development? Will she be able to foster comradery with the Congressman Davis, State Senator Lightford, State Representative Welch, Cook County Board President Preckwinkle or County Commissioner Collins Proviso Township Officials and Proviso Township Democratic Committeeman Karen Yarbrough? How will she interface with the West Suburban Mayors? Will she now put the proverbial ‘Rodney King Rule’ in effect and proclaim “Can we all just get along?”

    For those who compare Edweena’s historic victory as the first elected ‘Black’ female Mayor of Maywood to Barack Obama elected the first ‘African-American’ (I stress the significant difference) should ask themselves one question, can she build a consensus coalition to move Maywood forward? Divisive and delusional she may have been while a Trustee, but now as your Mayor elect, how will her rhetoric echo throughout the Village? Maywood, this is not a ‘High School Popularity Contest’ or ‘Reality Show’ where you can vote for your favorite singer (i.e. candidate) with no adverse consequences when they turn out to be lip syncing or just saying what you wanted to hear just to pimp your vote. Remember, there is a cure for voter’s remorse but you have to wait four years to try again. Until then … No Refunds – No Exchanges – No Returns.

    I can only wish Mrs. Perkins and all the elected candidates well in their endeavors to serve the public Trust of Maywood to the best of their ability. I am only a ‘Maywood Fan’ watching from a distance. It’s going to be interesting to watch. Same Rules, New Players … Maywood – Play Ball! Or is your game checkers not chess?

    1. Mr. Diggs,

      Thanks so much for taking the time to read and share your opinions. You ask some valid, pointed questions that I hope the newly elected/re-elected officials (on all levels) take into deep consideration. Hopefully, the citizens of this town take the initiative to bring those questions to Mrs. Perkins themselves. As to the balance of your response; while I appreciate your engagement (feel free to comment till your heart’s content by the way, I love the energy of your response!), I thought I’d push back on a few points you put forth (for clarity’s sake), particularly that in the second paragraph of your posting. You write, “For those who compare Edweena’s historic victory as the first elected ‘Black’ female Mayor of Maywood to Barack Obama elected the first ‘African-American’ (I stress the significant difference) should ask themselves one question, can she build a consensus coalition to move Maywood forward?”

      You stressed the ‘difference’, but you never explained the difference. The difference between what? And, if you believe a “significant difference” is apparent between these unspecified objects, how so? Were you talking about Mrs. Perkins’s ‘historic’ election as mayor vs. Obama’s ‘historic’ election as president? Were you referring to Mrs. Perkins’s being ‘Black’ vs. Obama’s being ‘African-American’? Or were you referring to Mrs. Perkins’s consensus-building capability (or lack therof) vs. Obama’s consensus-building capability (or lack thereof)? I think discriminating readers may have been confused by your loose grammar and syntax. Can you clarify the objects intended for comparison, please (for understanding’s sake)?

      In the same paragraph, you admonish Maywood that elections aren’t “High School Popularity Contest[s]” or “Reality Show[s],” your implication being that the foregoing election might well have been a popularity contest or reality show. I’m not arguing with the assertion itself, but there’s practically no substantial analysis leading to this point. It’s empty. For instance, I believe I can rather soundly substantiate the assertion that President Obama’s victories in ’08 and ’12 more closely resembled a popularity contest or reality show (if by these you imply a political event lacking substance and in which people are seduced into voting based on superficial trivialities, rather than on their actual economic or social interests) than did Edwenna Perkins’s victory (or Yarbrough’s or Guzman’s or Gooden’s or Larry’s had they won) two nights ago. If I were trying to do so in the limited space of a comment, I would, I don’t know, refer to a few authorities who draw out similar assertions (some pretty solid ones are Empire of Illusion by Christopher Hedges and The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America by Daniel Boorstin). I would perhaps include the authors’ credentials (B.A. Colgate, M.Div. Harvard, reporter for the New York Times, finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction in Hedges’s case, to give a lone example).

      I would perhaps cite some representative and materially substantial anecdotes or testimonies or statistics (some kind of rational proof). For instance, this quote from Hedges (forgive me, it’s rather freighted): “During the election between McCain and Obama, we were waging two wars, pre-emptive wars that under post Nuremberg laws are defined as criminal wars of aggression. We were running offshore penal colonies where we openly tortured individuals stripped of all rights. We had suspended habeas corpus. We had engaged in warrant-less wiretapping and eavesdropping on tens of millions of Americans . … And yet we spoke of ourselves as the greatest democracy on Earth – and that as the embodiment of the highest values, we had a right to deliver it to others by force.”

      As another example (and another materially substantial anecdote to connect the superficiality of American consumerism and manufactured interests with presidential elections), guess who beat out Apple and Zappos for Ad Age’s Marketer of the Year Award? You’re right. Barack Obama. Moreover, I would qualify my assertion to leave room for the possibility that my assertion might very well be wrong or a bit overdrawn or forced. As an example: ‘Of course, this isn’t to say everyone who voted for Pres. Obama did so because he or she was seduced by the candidate’s image or by the marketing tour de force that was his campaign, much in the way that we consume other brand names; rather, I’m suggesting that the ‘pageantry’ and ‘reality show’ aspects of the Obama campaign – as with all presidential campaigns – played roles of such significance that they should at least be taken into deep consideration.’Madison Avenue’ manipulation is rarely achieved in local elections, partly because local candidates can’t afford it, partly because TV ads and glitzy televised debates aren’t amenable to such small scales.’). I would end my comment on a polite, humble note (having experienced the Obama campaign myself from, as you’d put it, “a distance”). This lesson to you, Mr. Diggs, in rigorous (but courteous) civic engagement comes free of charge. Hence, the name of the outlet. Now, I welcome you to give it another go (p.s., you might want to consult a few writing style guides to preempt any future confusion brought on by your poor syntax and grammar usage).

      Sincerely (and with a smile),

      Mike Romain
      The Village Free Press

      1. Good morning Mr. Romain,

        Regarding my post on your blog (The Village Free Press), pardon the grammatical style but subjectively it serves a purpose to spark the eighty percent (80%) of registered voters (if some are viewers and readers of your blog) to recognize the results of their inaction. Crude without citations and explanations; I typed it and posted it in haste as a stream of my thoughts on Edweena’s victory as a benchmark place holder of historic relevance in Maywood.- far beyond submitting it for editorial scrutiny, appreciated nevertheless. I referenced the ‘significant difference’ between ‘Black’ and African-American as a context pinch to the late Dr. W. E. B. Dubois. I would not assume your viewership would be so offended if I substituted ‘Negro’ or ‘Colored’. Objectifying my ‘loose syntax and use of grammar’ removes the construct barrier of ‘free speech’ or electronic type. But, it’s your blog – do as you will. Although, I prefer the late Christopher Hitchens to Chris Hedges, I clearly understand your recommendations. Lastly Mr. Romain, (I jest with a smirk) the lesson here is “Don’t f&$@ with an English major. They keep lost of useless crap in their heads. Once in a while they let some of it out and it bites you square on the ass.”

        Congratulations on your blog and continued success, Sir.

      2. Hello Mr. Diggs,

        You were an English major? Don’t be so hard on yourself. Nothing in your head is useless. You found out a way to put references like W.E.B. DuBois and Christopher Hitchens and “construct barrier” to perfectly good use; even if, by the haphazard way you used them, I find it hard believing you understand anything in-depth about any of them. And again, syntax: Whose biting whom? Mr. Diggs, don’t be so intelligent that you don’t realize when you sound unintelligible.

        I’m with you on the low voter turnout rate in Maywood. I think this is an extremely disappointing reality. However, I don’t think that Edwenna Perkins’s election is necessarily the result of voter apathy or low information (although these are chronic conditions in Maywood, regardless of the person elected). For instance (and perhaps invoking more ‘useless information’), do you know which precincts in Maywood have the highest turnout rates and the most knowledgeable voters (these factors tend to correspond rather tightly with income levels)?

        So, for instance, the Seminary District in Maywood, an area comprised of some of the most affluent precincts in the Village, perennially has among the highest voter turnout rates in town. What if I told you that those were precincts that Mrs. Perkins won handily? This would suggest that you’re wrong in your assumption that her election is the result of political apathy and/or low information. You’d need to turn to other reasons. Fortunately for your argument, I can’t (lol – I thought I’d throw the informality in to tear down that dreaded “construct barrier” you mention).

        My point is that if you girded your points in substance, instead of ‘gaudy rhetoric,’ your opinion would be much more valuable. And by the way, if you told me that the precincts in the Seminary District (or other high per capita/household income precincts) were won handily by other candidates or were not won handily by any candidates at all (which makes things a lot more tricky to analyze), I would be very appreciative and it would make your input much more productive. This blog does not exist to defend politicians or to make me ‘sound’ smart by spewing ‘useless’ English-major stuff.

        ‘Stuff’ like voter apathy matters a lot and it deserves to be thought about and evaluated deeply, without getting mired in silly-sounding phrases like, “I referenced the ‘significant difference’ between ‘Black’ and African-American as a context pinch to the late Dr. W. E. B. Dubois. I would not assume your viewership would be so offended if I substituted ‘Negro’ or ‘Colored’. Objectifying my ‘loose syntax and use of grammar’ removes the construct barrier of ‘free speech’ or electronic type.” What does that mean?

        Since you seem like a smart, reasonable gentleman, I suspect you’d get (or have gotten) a kick out of reading George Orwell. I like him a lot. One of my favorite essays of his is called, “Politics and the English Language,” wherein he writes this timely advice:

        “(i) Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.

        (ii) Never use a long word where a short one will do.

        (iii) If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.

        (iv) Never use the passive where you can use the active.

        (v) Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.

        (vi) Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous”


        Mike Romain

        P.S. – Thanks again for reading and engaging. This is the kind of intense debate about important issues that I would love for people in the community to have. Again, I appreciate your lively input, man. We may disagree intensely, but at least we’re dialoguing.

  2. Mr. Romain,
    I assume you do know the difference between objective and subjective writing? Simplistic as your analytic diatribe of my comments have been, I trust if is not for personal gloating. I can only imagine why you long for ‘people in the community to have’ this ‘kind of intense debate’. I interjected the significant difference for the ‘Souls of Black Folk’ as you might be familiar with Dr. W. E B. Dubois and enjoy reading an article he penned in The Nation in 1956; ‘Why I Won’t Vote’ (Hence my initial comment about eighty percent 80% of registered voters – not voting). Only they know the reasons for their inaction in this modern day polycracy within we exist. “Politics and the English Language” plays well if you first understand Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift. Orwellian thought is not frame of reference for local socio-political observations. However, “Animal Farm” and “1984” I found enjoyable in High School. I prefer Dr. Derrick Bell’s, “Faces at the Bottom of the Well” and “And We are Not Saved” fictionalized factoid style of writing over Orwell. Now, on the topic of your purposeful blogging; I find it Interesting that you have researched some history of the Seminary District in Maywood but not to show the evolving demographics are no longer racial but spacial (within the 2.5 square miles of Maywood). You suggest by tying that areas specific precinct voting history to quantifiable median income levels would have been helpful to explain why the few swayed votes cast made a difference because they can afford to live in Bungalow styled homes? (Laughable) And why don’t I share a psycho-graphic formula that including how long residents have lived in the area, current housing foreclosure inventory, local crime statics and the 2010 US Census median income? Go figure – because figures don’t lie but liars do figure. Perhaps a post election survey from the actual citizens (who voted or did not vote) will put to rest my and your conjecture on the matter of their home rule governance. Mr. Romain, I will be watching the developments and encourage you to write on. Right On!

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