On what is typically a quiet polling day in Illinois, Forest Park voters made sure that one sentiment came through loud and clear during the Feb. 2 non-presidential primary. That they see tremendous value in the village’s park district and, even under cloudy economic skies, understand the importance of forward thinking.
The margin by which the property tax increase that will allow the parks to (hopefully) acquire the Roos property at Circle and Harrison is convincing, but should not be used to overwhelm the dissenters. And it doesn’t appear that will be the case. Cathy McDermott, president of the park’s board of commissioners, said she understands people are nervous about even a small tax increase. Going forward, McDermott said she and her colleagues are committed to keeping us all informed of how things are progressing as the park tries to buy the Roos from troubled Amcore Bank, and then rehab the 2.5-acre site into a marvelous public use.
This newspaper absolutely agrees with the majority that voted to seize this opportunity, and we are cautiously optimistic that a deal to buy the site can be reached. It’s a bit awkward that the bank knows, generally, what the park has to spend. However, Amcore needs to get out from under its bad loans.
What is most important to understand about the public’s vote is that at a time when many communities cannot get a referendum approved, Forest Parkers were able to look beyond their immediate woes and make a promise to their future. That is a credit to voters and to the park district.
Of course, the tax increase wasn’t the only question on the ballot. In a four-way contest on the Democratic ticket to represent the 1st District on the Cook County Board of Commissioners, suburban voters rejected incumbent Earlean Collins. Those votes, unfortunately, weren’t enough to unseat our invisible county commissioner so now it is up to the communities she represents to hold her accountable (assuming she wins in November, which is almost certain).
Finishing last in that contest was a Forest Park resident and first-time candidate for public office, Chris Harris. To be blunt, Harris didn’t have much of a chance. He does, however, have a chance to be active within Forest Park and we would strongly encourage anyone with the will to do so to get involved. Ask about volunteer opportunities, committee seats or whether a campaign for a village council seat in 2011 is feasible. Democracy requires participation, so, participate.
On the south side of town, in a sliver of the county’s 16th District, Forest Park also weighed in on whether Commissioner Tony Peraica should continue to serve. Peraica, a Republican, won easily in the primary, but is possibly facing a real challenge on the Democratic ticket. Peraica’s rally cry of reform is worthwhile, but he has a history of alienating, well, everyone. In this race, voters could see more heat than light so it will be important to recognize the substance buried in the rhetoric.