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Old 07-11-2008, 09:33 AM
 
24 posts, read 151,006 times
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We are looking for a suburb with older (pre 1940) homes, good schools and lefty Democrats.

La Grange seems to have nice homes, but we're worried it's too Republican for us.

Riverside has lovely homes, and we like the fact that it's small, but we don't understand its politics.

Oak Park interests us, but it seems very divided rich vs poor areas, and it seems unsafe in parts.

River Forest has nice houses, but is it too conservative for us and not diverse racially?

Safety and schools are our first priorities, followed by political mix. (We lived in Barrington years ago, but were unhappy there because we were the only liberals in town. We loved the country feel of Barrington, but people thought we were freaks because we had no TV and voted for Democrats.)

Any comments on the political and social makeup of La Grange, Riverside, Oak Park and River Forest most appreciated. Thanks.
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Old 07-11-2008, 10:37 AM
 
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Quick answer (at least from what I've seen) is that Oak Park does have a liberal reputation (a liberal would call it "progressive," a conservative might call it "leftist"). Riverside (where I live) probably tilts republican, and i think it is fair to term it a conservative town. I don't know that I could make any judgements about LaGrange and River Forest--neither has any type of "political" reputation, although I think it would be a fair guess that one would find more republicans in River Forest.

Do note that, with the possible exception of Oak Park, you will not find a lot of residents of these towns who wear their politics on their sleeves. Don't get me wrong, people vote and are well-versed on the issues, but these near western suburbs are kind of old-fashioned about public displays of political affiliation--its not realyy something you talk about unless you know for a fact that the other person is interested. I should also note that even the most conservative folks in these towns are unlikely to be extremely right wing, and are not from the Christian Coalition wing of the Republican party--they are more like Rockefeller or Eisenhower Republicans who tend to dislike taxes and support law and order, but can be fairly liberal with respect to other social issues.

If liberal political activism is important to you, Oak Park is probably the only place that fits your bill (and even then, its nothing like Berkeley or Madison). Really, though, I would not be too concerned about your politics putting you on the outside in any of these towns (unless, of course, you are completely monomaniacal on the subject, and its the only thing you ever want to discuss).
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Old 07-11-2008, 10:41 AM
 
Location: Chicago
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnm68 View Post
If liberal political activism is important to you, Oak Park is probably the only place that fits your bill (and even then, its nothing like Berkeley or Madison). Really, though, I would not be too concerned about your politics putting you on the outside in any of these towns (unless, of course, you are completely monomaniacal on the subject, and its the only thing you ever want to discuss).

The last point is key.
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Old 07-11-2008, 10:49 AM
 
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We're active in politics, but not monomaniacal. We would like to live where people think about politics, and where our views are accepted. When we lived in Barrington, we were afraid to put a political sign on our front yard! Hostility to Democrats was frightening there!

Does anyone know anything about LaGrange? It's close to the city, and we like the houses.

Re: Oak Park, we have not ruled it out, but we're fearful of the crime spilling in from nearby neighborhoods. And yes, we've been told we'd fit in there fine, politically. And the houses are beautiful too.

Johnm68: When you say Riverside is conservative, do you mean everyone supports McCain and Bush? Or do you mean that people live conventional lives? Our lives are pretty conventional, and I'd bet we share a lot with Christian conservatives in terms of the way we raise our children, although our politics are diametrically opposed.
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Old 07-11-2008, 11:16 AM
 
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I live in La Grange, and there were plenty of Democratic campaign posters displayed during primary season (mostly for judges and the U.S. congressional race). There are also three Obama posters currently displayed within one block of my house and only one McCain sign. I would say the town is pretty politically moderate. My husband & I are Democratic voters and have not felt out of place.
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Old 07-11-2008, 11:18 AM
 
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I used to live in Oak Park. It's a nice city, fairly safe, and liberal. You can't go wrong with it, given the criteria you've stated.
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Old 07-11-2008, 11:53 AM
 
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I mean conservative in the sense that people live conventional lives (although really, I don't think there are a lot of people living "unconventional" lives (whatever that means) in any of the towns you mentioned). I also mean conservative in the sense of being somewhat somewhat resistant to change and old-fashioned--neither of which are necessarily bad in my point of view.

While my guess is that Riverside swings Republican, there are 2 Obama signs on my block, and no McCain signs. Again, I don't really discuss politics with my neighbors, so I don't know really know their views. But, I doubt that anyone would have a problem with the fact that you are a liberal democrat.

With respect to Oak Park, i would not be too concerned with crime. It exists, and is higer than that in the other suburbs you mentioned, but most Oak Parkers aren't really touched by it.

LaGrange is also a very nice town, and I think it would also be a good choice, as would River Forest. If I were you, I'd visit all four and see what you like best, regardless of the political views of your neighbors.
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Old 07-11-2008, 07:30 PM
 
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I have always been lead to believe that Oak Park and River Forest were both very liberal. They both have a similar look and feel to Evanston. River Forest = Evanston's more upscale neighborhoods and Oak Park = the more dense areas of Evanston. La Grange and Riverside are among the most conservative Chicago suburbs. With notable Republican politicians hailing from both. The former chairman of the Illinois GOP, Judy Baar Topinka, is a native of Riverside and still resides there.
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Old 07-12-2008, 08:20 PM
 
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I have to laugh at thought of someone concerned that ANY town in Illinois is "too Republican", but I can imagine that it would be good to get a sense of the politics of place before moving anywhere.


Illinois has a Democrat governor, two Democrat Senators, one of whom is guaranteed to have the state in his column for the Presidential election, a congressional delegation that is dominated by Democrats and likely to move further in that direction if the situatuon with the Hastert special election is any indication, its most populous county, Cook, is completely dominated by the Democrats on the County Board. The state GOP is in shambles with no sign of that reversing anytime. Not sure what time frame the OP felt they were freaks for voting for Democrats in Barrington -- pretty sure most of that area is covered by Melissa Bean where she STOMPED on the Republican. LaGrange is SOLIDLY in the Dem column Congressionally, the elder Lipinsky having handed his seat to the son who has twice defended against challengers. I happen to personally know the State Senator whose district includes LaGrange -- Christine Radagno. Although she is technically part of the minority GOP down in Springfield, her #1 donor is Illinois Pro-Choice PAC, #2 is the teachers' union PAC, Illinois Education Association I_PACE, and among her top donors is the Sierra Club. Follow The Money | RADOGNO, CHRISTINE Just how left are the OP's politics?

I have to mention that I no idea which of my neighbors have a TV or which do not. I do make an effort to talk to my neighbors A LOT about many things that effect our street, school(s), town but I really do not care if they get information from a TV, shortwave radio, teletype, internet connection or native drum. I do care if they are clueless about local government, don't maintain their home or create any kind of a nuisance. I also think it is very important for the neighbors to be aware of where their local property tax is spent. You pretty much have to subscribe to local newspapers to get any sense of that.

The utter disregard our idiot boy governor has for getting things done in a legal and efficient manner is enough to get anyone to turn their back on state level politics. I also think that despite the fact that the party that has control of the House and Senate in Illinois is also the same party as that idiot governor it does not seem that they can do anything to get the business of paying the State's bills accomplished. This situation is even less likely to be open to influence by individuals at the national level, as that is an even bigger mess.

If some one is TRULY committed to the positive effects that can be had from knowledge/ involvement in politics it is far more important to be involved at the levels closer to home. Perhaps people that DO watch TV feel that they are being judged when told by the OP of his choices of media. It might be useful to use a TV (with appropriate green power...) to watch local cable access where they could see first hand just what happens at the various meetings layers of local government and determine if the towns they are considering are acting locally in harmony with appropriate political thought. Oak Park is still a nuclear-free zone... It is my honest belief that far more good can come from attending even one school board or or Village Council meeting that having any kind of national political yard sign...

My advice is to move into whatever town you like and can afford to be involved in.

I my experience places with a significant number of expensive properties (and the owners that can afford them) have little need for the sort of services that are directly supported by the federal government, though they typically have some very talented people that do VOLUNTEER their time to make it an even better place. (and often they also volunteer their time to help disadvantaged people/ communities) Contrast this to how things work in Chicago or other places that could benefit from not just federal spending but people committed to seeing spent wisely. There is a tendency for federal dollars to be spent in ways that may not be all that beneficial to the most needy -- I was over at the Museum of Science & Industry and though I like the underground parking I also know that Rostenkowski locked up the federal dollars to make it possible -- not exactly the most pressing need in a City that right now has it major public transit route out of service at its western end, creating a giant hassle to all the O'Hare travelers having to do a dance onto shuttle buses.

I spend a lot of time in La Grange. It is a darned nice town. Most people who live there are pretty good about taking care of their homes and providing for the schools. From the time when I was a teacher I know several teachers at LT and it is certainly not a any sort of "arch-conservative" town. There are no "mega churches" like that place near Barrington. What you will find at LT are efforts to help kids with ESL and all kinds of students that the school serves. If you are looking for not just a numeric kind of diversity but a place where wide range of students from a very broad range of income and backgrounds can be successful I think that LT would be worth exploring/getting involved with.

Perhaps if the OP puts some effort into figuring out what really tends to make a place livable for a great many people of various incomes they will feel like less of a freak.
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Old 07-14-2008, 08:55 AM
 
111 posts, read 364,364 times
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That's an excellant post by Chet--he raise's some excellent points about national v. local politics and issues.

With regard to the poster who noted that LaGrange and Riverside are "are among the most conservative Chicago suburbs" I think you're exaggerating a bit. As I noted, I think Riverside does swing republican and you are correct that Judy Baar Topinka lives there, as does Tony Pereica. I don't think, however, that either one of those folks is any type of arch conservative--indeed, in a truly red state, their views would probably be considered close to liberal (now I'm exaggerating a bit, but you get the idea).

With respect to LaGrange, I have never heard of it having any type of political reputation at all (unlike, for example, Oak Park). Again, in my mind, your political views or the the political views of one's neighbors would not be an issue in fitting in to any of these suburbs.
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