I’m Mary Anne Mohanraj, and I’m running for library board trustee in the Village of Oak Park; the election will be April 4, 2017. The Library Board sets policy and manages the budget, to ensure our libraries are effectively helping Oak Parkers find the resources they need in a safe, kind environment.

So far, our libraries have been well-supported and defended. They are fantastic, and I want them to continue to be fantastic, even under national administrations that may be hostile to information, community services, diverse populations and freedom of expression.

I’m the person who can help make sure this continues to be the case because I am a library patron, a mother, a writer, and an English teacher. Libraries are key to every part of my personal and professional life, and I want to make sure they are strong and accessible for every aspect of your personal and professional lives too.


When the campaign ends (the election is April 4, 2017), any donations will be rolled over to the next campaign. (The library board trustee term is four years.) If, at some point, I decide to stop running for office, any remaining funds will be donated to the ACLU.


After donating, we'll contact you to find out if you'd like any of our donor rewards.

• The Avid Reader: 5 bookmarks ($10)

• Show Your Love: an official campaign button and 5 bookmarks ($15)

• Kid-Approved!: a Kavi button (designed by my daughter), official button, and 5 bookmarks ($25)

• The House That Reads Together: 2 Kavi buttons, 2 official buttons, and 5 bookmarks ($50)

• The Library: a copy of Bodies in Motion, my Sri Lankan cookbook, and my children's picture book, 2 Kavi buttons, 2 official buttons, and 5 bookmarks ($100)

Photos of the rewards are here: http://maryannemohanraj.com/librarycampaign/library-board-campaign-rewards/

If you can pick up from me locally, we can skip the shipping charges.

Buttons and bookmarks free to Oak Park residents!


My main campaign website, with more info on the campaign and my issues, is here: http://maryannemohanraj.com/librarycampaign/

Show your support for this campaign by endorsing it and sharing why!

  • endorsed

    “We support Mary Ann Mohanraj because she is passionate about every role she takes on. We believe she will do a great deal of good in this capacity and the community will benefit from having her elected to the board!”

  • endorsed

    “I support Mary Anne Mohanraj for library board because her background and experience make her profoundly qualified for the position.”

  • endorsed

    “I support Mohanraj for Oak Par Library Boars because Mary Anne is one of the most thoughtful and intelligent people I know, and libraries need people like her.”

  • endorsed

    “Her background, intelligence, and diversity is what this Country needs far more, not less, of.”

  • endorsed

    “I endorse my good friend Mary Anne Mohanraj for library board because having known her since college I know she will be an amazing addition to my old home town's Library Board”

March 27, 2017


"In challenging economic times, library usage always goes up, as so many Americans turn to their local libraries for help with schoolwork, job searches, and more. Mary Anne Mohanraj is an Oak Park library patron, a mother, a writer, and an English teacher. Equity and access are central to her progressive vision of what our libraries should be, and she is committed to making sure that our libraries work hard to serve working people, reaching into their neighborhoods with services such as pop-up libraries and senior shuttles, and expanding hours so less wealthy families can have the access they need to computers and books. Mary Anne believes that our libraries should serve the needs of all Americans."

-- Jim Dean, Democracy for America, democracyforamerica.com

March 25, 2017

What's Next?

As the library board race comes to a close, I'm thinking about what comes next. Win or lose, I plan to run again -- a friend told me yesterday that she'd read that men generally run three times before they stop running, and women stop after the first defeat.

That lines up with what I've seen as an editor, what studies have shown -- men persist more than women do, and that results in more publications. There are good reasons why women, why anyone from a marginalized group,might decide to cut their losses -- when resources are already scarce, it might not feel like it makes sense to keep pouring energy in a direction that offers no guarantee of success. But the consequence is fewer women, fewer people of color, fewer marginalized voices in the field.

So I'll run again -- I'm not sure yet for what. I was talking to an organizer last night, and I said that I didn't know what I could realistically run for next. She said that wasn't the right question -- that the question was, what problem do I want to solve, and what is the job that solves them? The honest answer is that I want to solve all the problems; I'm not a single issue candidate.

I can't run for president, but I could run for Congress, or Governor, or a state house position. That feels...distant, right now. I don't know how many steps there are between here and there. I think I need to have conversations with people wise in Democratic politics, to map out a reasonable approach for the next few years.

But in the meantime, I'm figuring out what my core positions really are. For library board, I'm running on a platform of equity and access. Our libraries are fantastic, and they do a great job of serving the people who use them. I want to make sure that people who have difficulties getting to our libraries (for financial, physical, cultural, or other reasons) have help getting there. Libraries for everyone.

I think the same platform applies at a larger level. I want our schools to serve all students, not just the wealthiest or the brightest. I want our public buildings and spaces to be physically accessible to all. I want every American to enjoy the same ability to access healthcare as other economically developed countries experience.

If America is to be as great as it imagines itself, as it promises, we need to ensure that we make pursuing life, liberty, and happiness possible for ALL our people.

Family means nobody gets left behind. Or forgotten.


(And yes, I'm quoting a Disney film.)


March 12, 2017


My library board campaign has reached its goal of raising $5000, and I am just so grateful and pleased and honestly, a little stunned. I don't really know what to say except thank you. I'm about to sign the form and send it in for Friends of Mary Anne Mohanraj to become an official PAC (a requirement at this stage), and if we don't spend all the money for this run, it'll be held safely in trust for the next one. I kind of think there's going to be a next one. If you donate at this point, odds are, it will go towards convincing me (and others) that I would be a viable candidate for higher office in a few years. But we'll leave the fundraising for another day. For now, thank you, thank you.

thank you to the progressive women
who were my main initial impetus for running
thank you to old friends (and old boyfriends)
who still like me, it seems
thank you to my neighbors (one of whom
donated because she likes my garden,
and another, because she likes my kitchen)
thank you to minor celebrities
who lent their name and gave money
(Gaiman and Martin carry weight, it turns out)
thank you to the ones who gave anonymously
too, and thank you to Facebook which extended
my reach to all of you lovely people who have
for whatever reason, listened to me ramble
and found something there worth supporting

most of all, thank you to Kevin and my children,
who have not give me a penny, but
have given up a little of my time and attention.

i hope you'll all think it worth it

in the end.

You'll note that this site doesn't reflect the full $5000 -- that's because about $2000 came in via checks instead of through here.

March 3, 2017

One month out (ish)

We’re just about one month out from the election, and the schedule is getting intense. There are now enough events happening that I physically can’t make it to all of them — they’re often cross-scheduled, as with tonight’s voter registration drive hosted by Suburban Unity Alliance and the library board candidate forum hosted by Buzz Cafe. (I, of course, had to be at the latter, and I think it went well!) I’m trying to get to as many local events as I can, and it’s exciting and invigorating and exhausting; I plan to fall into bed on April 5th and maybe not get up again. Until the library board meeting, that is. :-)

Last night I attended the trustee candidate forum at the library, which was fascinating — two months ago, I don’t think it would have occurred to me to attend such a thing. Now, not only do I go to all of them I can, I’m going not just as a candidate myself, but as a citizen. As the crowd asked the trustees questions, I realized that I had, over the past two months, developed answers on every one of those questions — I’m not even running for trustee, but you know what? I have OPINIONS.

I have an opinion on the new building being proposed next to Austin Gardens park, I have an opinion on the D97 school referendum, I have opinions on the use of TIF money to develop the blighted stretch on Madison — I didn’t even know what a TIF was two months ago. It actually doesn’t take that long to get up to speed, if you go to a few meetings, pay attention, and ask questions. I am more than a little embarrassed that it took November’s election to kick my butt into civic gear.

Just to give you a sense, here’s what I’ve been attending — some of them are more social events, to meet voters and learn their concerns, some are more explicitly political. I’m not including the various meetings with volunteers or phone conversations with my finance person!

1/30 – knitting club
1/31 – school board referendum meeting at library, OP Indian ladies night
2/1 – Buzz Cafe – Democracy for America meeting
2/4 – friend’s birthday party (and yes, with her permission, I campaigned there)
2/6 – Village Hall welcoming city immigration meeting
2/10 – book swap and candidate meet-and-greet hosted by a friend
2/11 – Democratic monthly meeting, lunch with fellow candidates, hosted board game potluck for OP Progressive Women (and I thought about hitting the last hour of the local LGBT potluck too, but my will for driving somewhere else at 9:30 at night failed me)
2/18 – hosted LGBT clothing swap benefit
2/19 – refugee hosting meeting
2/21 – LWV school board candidate forum
2/22 – presentation on interacting with elected officials
2/28 – phone conference with CrowdPac about featuring my campaign (they like it!), OP Progressive Women happy hour
3/1 – LWV trustee candidate forum, garden therapy at senior center
3/2 – library candidate forum at Buzz
3/3 – friend hosting a meet-and-greet for me, plus trivia night

Oof! Retail politics is very very retail. I’m a social person, but I admit, at the end of the night, I do tend to come home and huddle up with a book for an hour until I feel ready to face people again. Next week, starting Sunday, there’s an event every night, and two on Sunday! Wish me luck.

February 6, 2017


They say it takes money to make money. On the one hand, that's often frustrating, especially for those of us who would like to see less money in politics overall. But it does make a certain amount of logical sense. You need money to be able to get the word out about your campaign -- marketing just costs, in ways that are very hard to avoid.

And people want to know that any money they donate won't be wasted. They want to be sure you really have a shot, and one way to test that is to see whether you were able to raise money in the past. It's one of the few real indicators of whether you're going to be a viable candidate. (This is, incidentally, also why publishers are more willing to spend advertising money on their 'sure thing' authors than on the newbies they're taking chances on...)

I'm delighted to note that my CrowdPac fundraising has now broken $2000! The goal is to raise $5000 through CrowdPac for the campaign, ideally by March 1, both for immediate needs, and to demonstrate that even for a small local campaign like library board, I'm a candidate that can turn out people in support. If I do want to run for anything bigger down the road, proving that now will be a huge help to getting support from larger donors, Democratic orgs, etc.

It's honestly a little tricky making clear how much I've raised in these intervening months, since in addition to the CrowdPac fundraising, I've also gotten some money via check and PayPal (over $1500). But what's nice about CrowdPac is that it's very visible and easy for people to see how things are going. That's why I'm setting the goal for $5000 through CrowdPac (and about $6500 overall). Hope it isn't too confusing that way!

So that's where we are right now -- almost halfway through the fundraising, which feels like a milestone. If you'd like to see me on the library board in a few months, OR running for something else down the line, now would be an excellent time to donate. Endorsements are also gratefully accepted, and sharing the word on Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Anything that makes it clear that there's broad-based support for my being in office is tremendously helpful!

January 29, 2017


Delighted to note that we're about to break $1500 on the fundraising for my library board campaign. I have now ordered 3000 bookmarks, woohoo! Thank you so much for your support -- it's going to be terrific to have bookmarks to hand out at all the neighborhood events I'm going to. Also, bookmarks are useful!

Next step, raising another $500 to pay for palm cards. These are long cards, about the size of a #10 envelope, that are traditionally used by politicians for both mailings and for hanging on doors while canvassing. And of course, it's a great piece to have for handing out at events, especially if there's a table set up for candidate materials. Mine has some information on what the library board actually does, along with more information about me and my positions on issues than would fit on a bookmark.

January 26, 2017

Almost at $1000! And a request to share the word.

Folks, I'm honored to see that we're just about to top $1000 in donations -- in just seven days since the campaign was created, that's pretty amazing. That's enough to pay for the pizza for my volunteers at two campaign meetings, the two runs of buttons we've made, and a host of other small expenses, from opening a P.O. Box to buying clipboards for the volunteers and poster board and markers for signs. The next $1000 will go towards ordering paper goods -- bookmarks and palm cards, to give potential voters a little more information about me and the campaign

If you're willing, we would really appreciate it if you'd spread the word about the campaign to your friends and family, through Facebook, Twitter, etc. That's one of the most effective ways to build support, and we'd love your help with that. If we can raise that next $1000 in another week, I should be able to pay for bookmarks and palm cards in good time, so I have them on hand for the upcoming candidate forums hosted by the League of Women Voters. Onwards!

Campaign created!

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