The filing period for local school board elections begins next week and the potential for change within Forest Park’s two public bodies is significant.
Between the K-8 schools governed by the District 91 Board of Education and the high schools in District 209, eight of the 14 board seats are up for election this spring. To appear on the ballot, candidates must file their nominating papers between Jan. 29 and Feb. 5.
Longtime District 91 board member Steve Johnsen said in all likelihood he will not run for re-election, bringing an end to his 14 years of service.
“I haven’t decided yet, but I’m probably not going to,” Johnsen said. “I feel like my predicament over at village hall would be a distraction.”
Johnsen is a lieutenant with the Forest Park Police Department and was recently given a 30-day unpaid suspension pending the outcome of a disciplinary hearing with the Fire and Police Commission. The chief of police has asked that Johnsen be terminated.
Johnsen’s seat is one of five in District 91 that is up for grabs. Unless there is a shortage of candidates to fill those seats, Johnsen said he will not run again.
Incumbents Catherine Denham, Glenn Garlisch, Sean Blaylock and Francis Mott are also up for re-election in District 91. Blaylock and Garlisch both said they will run for office. Denham, however, said she has family obligations to consider.
“At this point I haven’t decided,” Denham said.
Mott could not be reached for comment.
For Mott and Blaylock, this election would be the first time either has had to campaign for the seat. Both men were appointed to the board after previous members resigned. The two men are eligible for a two-year term.
Candidates vying for those seats occupied by Denham, Johnsen and Garlisch will compete for four-year terms.
The District 91 school board has a total of seven members.
In Proviso Township High School District 209 three of the five incumbents – Shirley Madlock, Theresa Kelly and Gary Marine – are up for re-election. Marine, who was originally appointed to replace a former member and then won re-election, said he will not throw his hat in the ring this year. Marine said the experience has been “wonderful,” but the commitment is draining.
“You’ve got to devote a lot of time,” Marine said.
Madlock was still “considering” a run for re-election, but said she has not yet decided. Superintendent Stan Fields is doing good work, Madlock said, and it would be nice to support his efforts.
“I do like the direction he’s taking the district, and for that reason I would like to support him,” Madlock said.
Kelly did not return a phone call seeking comment, however, Marine said he understands she will seek re-election.
All of the candidates elected this year in District 209 will be slated for four-year terms. None of the sitting members on the board are residents of Forest Park.