This year, Forest Parkers will not vote in a winter primary. Instead, the 16 candidates running in the municipal race will push on full steam ahead to the general election on April 5.
This is subsequent to 2007 changes to state election law, which now requires an increase in the number of candidates for a primary to be held. For non-partisan, commission governments like Forest Park’s, there need to be at least four times the number of candidates running as there are seats.
In short, four persons have to run for mayor for a primary to occur, as an example.
The law was changed in response to low voter turn-out, and as a cost-saving measure, according to the government organizations Illinois Municipal League and Illinois Association of County Clerks.
Countywide, voter participation was abysmal in 2003 and 2007, the last two municipal elections. In 2003, 23 percent of registered voters cast ballots across Cook County. Four years later, only 17 percent showed up to vote, according to statistics from the Cook County Clerk.
But, if the number of candidates on the Forest Park ballot – 14 for commissioner and two for mayor – and the spirited talk around town are indicative of this year’s civic participation, there might be a decent showing at the polls this spring. Of course, that total number of candidates could still change as three commissioner hopefuls face petition challenges.
Whether you are of the persnickety petition persuasion – every detail must be correct, or of the more lenient – more candidates mean more discussion outlook, the hardball tactic of challenging petitions is, in itself, a sign of political life in town. However the petition challenges turn out, and the first hearing is just after press time this week, it is going to be a spirited spring election season and we actively welcome that.
There are issues to be sorted out and political approaches to be evaluated. The Review will provide thorough coverage each week in print, with frequent updates online at forestparkreview.com.
All too often we forget that voting is a privilege. Across the globe people live under oligarchies, dictatorships, and faux democracies, and would no doubt love the opportunity to vote abusive regimes out of power.
Whether you’re dissatisfied with your elected officials, or you approve of the job they’ve done, exercise your right to vote.
There are 8,024 registered voters in Forest Park. We hope to see all of you at the polls on Election Day.
Visit the Village of Forest Park website at www.forestpark.net, for more information on voter registration and polling places.