A couple of times a week, I pick up my daughter from work around midnight and head home, west on Madison. Between the streets of Marengo and Desplaines I am also playing a game: avoid the Gen Xers. What was once an occasional occurrence has now become an epidemic. These young adults dart out into the street at will, oblivious to traffic, with the concept of immortality that we all had at that age, firmly engrained in the minds. In front of Duffy’s on Thursday there were eleven (I counted) in a huddle in the street. A polite toot from my car horn got the inevitable one finger salute from several of the huddled and I was forced to drive into the opposing lane to get past them.

Drinking on Madison is nothing new obviously. It’s one of the things that has defined Forest Park for decades. When I was their age, Madison Street was very familiar to my friends and me. Back then however, most of the bars catered to an ‘older’ crowd. We normally “hung” at the Ending, occasionally patronizing the Forest Tap. There was no concept of bar hopping that seems to be the rage these days.

Times do change though, and while I may see accidents waiting to happen, proprietors hear the melodic tunes of cash registers ringing. While some people who reside near Madison complain about litter and noise, others see this as a sign of economic vitality in the village. It’s easy to see all sides of the issue and difficult for planners to find the right balance. Such is life.

It’s this balancing act, however, that I will be looking at when deciding whom to vote for next spring. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, or so I’m told. For every new hotspot on Madison Street there are more crowds and fewer places to park. Every time a new development arrives, more traffic comes with as well as a greater burden on village services. What I’ll be looking for in the candidates is a comprehensive plan that I can comprehend.

I live near the intersection of Desplaines and Jackson. Prior to the new traffic lights being installed there heading west on Jackson towards Des Plaines was a nightmare from 4 to 6 p.m. The new lights have fixed that problem in fabulous fashion, but at the expense of those traveling east on Jackson, which has now become a nightmare with U-turning motorists the rule not the exception. Action and reaction.

Too often politicians come up with simplistic solutions to complicated problems. And if these simplistic solutions can be accompanied by a photo op, so much the better. What I’ll be looking for is vision; people who can look beyond the new ordinance that is passed and see what will happen down the road after it becomes law. I don’t expect perfection, and I’ll settle for after-the-fact adjusting and tweaking,

I’ll be looking for candidates who balance all sides of an issue when contemplating action. I’ll be looking for someone who, when the next higher density project comes a-calling, gives at least the same consideration to the people who are already living here as to the big money developers. I’ll be looking for candidates who understand that while it’s great to have a packed Madison Street several nights of the week, it needs to be balanced with the concerns of the residents nearby. I’ll be looking for candidates who understand that the balance for secrecy in village matters needs to always tip towards the side of “more information is better”.

Successful candidates have a habit of thinking that just because they won, they don’t have to answer to the public until the next election, that they have some sort of mandate conferred upon them by the voters. They feel no compulsion to look for a balance in their decisions. Instead their decisions are driven by appearance, political paybacks, and taking the easy way out. These are people who will never get my vote.

I’m only one voter and I don’t expect any candidate for office to change for my benefit. The upcoming election will have more that it’s share of personal attacks and mudslinging. For the sake of the village I hope that these candidates also balance their desire for office and thirst for blood with an intelligent platform that doesn’t insult our collective intelligence.