In every community, after an election there is an audible sigh of relief. The candidates and their supporters can kick back for the first time in weeks and resume a normal lifestyle. The citizenry relish the fact that they will no longer be inundated with direct mail pieces or have to pick up flyers that were delivered door to door but ended up strewn on their lawns.
Candidates forcing a smile, and the dreaded Election Day necessity of having to walk a gauntlet of political goons just to cast a vote is but a distasteful distant memory no longer blocking the entrances to Ed’s Way and the banks. Except for recent presidential elections people wake up the next morning to find out who won and who lost. This year in Forest Park the results were clear, as well as being as clear as mud.
The race for the two seats on the Park District Board was the only truly local race, and it “dominated’ the political gossip in town not so much for its intrigue, but more because of its only child status. Cathy McDermott and Roy Sansone narrowly won in the closet election that I can remember. Only thirty votes separated the top four vote getters.
Immediately after the election many people tried to analyze the Park results, myself included.
Some said that with three women being on the ballot, the women vote was split three ways, ensuring that at least Sansone or Mike Espinosa would be re-elected. That of course assumes that women vote just for women, and men don’t vote for women.
Others floated reasons and excuses that, given the small amount of voters and lack of exit poll data, sound good over a beer but are impossible to verify. My take is that given the closeness of the race, if the election had been held on Wednesday, it is entirely possible that Espinosa would have been re-elected and Wozniak would have replaced McDermott as the new face.
The backdrop for this election was the 2007 election for Mayor and Village Council. Some people used the election to gauge the strength of the “Tony Factor” referring to Mayor Anthony Calderone. If the candidates who were backed by the Mayor fared well, the thinking went, then it would bode well for the mayor and his team in 2007, assuming he runs for re-election. If his candidates didn’t win, then the mayor faced an uphill battle. The results of course appear to be mixed.
There is an episode of Seinfeld where everything in Jerry’s life balances out. One of his friends is up, the other is down. Jerry loses a girlfriend only to find another one almost immediately. Such has been the luck of the mayor.
In the 2003 election two of the four candidates he endorsed for village commissioner won, two of them lost. In 2003, the mayor supported a candidate for the school board who won, and supported a candidate for Park Commissioner who lost. This year, the mayor supported both incumbents for the Park Board, one who won, one who lost.
This even”steven thing can also be applied to the township race. The mayor supported the candidates of the Township Alliance Party (TAP) who won pretty comfortably on a township-wide basis.
Tim Gillian of Forest Park was re-elected trustee but Johnsen was defeated. However, in Forest Park the upstart Integrity Party received more votes than TAP and Johnsen garnered more than Gillian.
Opponents of the mayor will suggest that this shows he can’t produce the numbers in town anymore. TAP supporters will counter that Integrity was successful in town because of the extensive anti-Melrose Park theme they took in the campaign, believing it to be a one trick pony, unlikely to return in 2007.
Overall this was a gentle election. Some hard feelings maybe, but in any election there will be some hard feelings because someone has to win and someone has to lose.
There were no barroom brawls however, no political intimidation, no whiff of scandal at the polling places.
That will happen in 2007. If you have a PC nearby, and haven’t already, go to www.forestpark.com. This is a website run for Forest Parkers to chime in about various issues affecting the village. In the past few weeks Mayor Calderone, Commissioner Patrick Doolin and their respective minions have engaged in a political discourse that more resembles the Jerry Springer show that a civil debate. I haven’t looked at it for several days because nothing constructive is coming from this show. This is what villagers have to look forward to for the next two years.
Whether your candidates won or lost on April 5, you need to savor the day. The 2007 campaigning has already begun and it’s going to be ugly.