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If 2006 has taught us anything, it is that Forest Park is an unpredictable community where any number of scenarios can play out.

In the last year we’ve seen a stash of guns and cash stolen from bizarre hiding places in a police sergeant’s home, only to be returned days later. We watched the village council waffle on the parking proposal after agreeing to hold a public hearing as a mere formality. And weeks after announcing his candidacy for mayor, a Forest Park resident was identified as the host of an underage drinking party where someone was stabbed.

For these reasons, we’ll hold off on making any bold predictions on what to expect in 2007.

We are bit more certain though, that one of the most important events of 2007 will be the April election. For the last four years commissioners and voters alike have griped about the vindictive and arguably unproductive behavior that has dogged the five incumbents. This spring’s municipal election will bring new faces to a majority of the seats, and for that reason, could change the political tone for the next four years.

Several of the eight candidates running for commissioner (see the related story on page one) are young, educated professionals who are relative newcomers to the community. This is exactly the demographic that Forest Park and most every community focused on redevelopment is gunning for. It will be interesting to see whether voters embrace this new segment of the population after working so hard to reel it in.

The mayor’s race certainly is important in its own right, if for nothing else than to give us all a reading on the mood of the voters. Re-electing incumbent Anthony Calderone would perhaps be a mandate for continued development. Giving Patrick Doolin the nod could be read as a vote cast in spite, and should Theresa Steinbach win the seat, voters may be asking for a different mood altogether.

All three candidates bring their strengths and weaknesses to the table, but frankly, the outcome of that race is not as important as the outcome of the commissioner’s race. The election of a new majority, regardless of the mayor, could swing the power to a different camp and bring a new agenda to the fore. Or, hopefully, we’ll see five independent people willing to discuss different viewpoints in the interest of the public good.

As 2006 comes to a close, the Review wishes everyone a safe and joyous holiday season as we all gear up for an important decision that lies ahead.