Matt Walsh

1) I have a lot of family living in town. My dad’s side of the family has been in Forest Park since 1969. Both of my grandmothers, multiple aunts and uncles on both sides live in town along with a good amount of cousins.

2) I started going in March 2010 and maybe missed three or four during the year. That adds up to about fifteen Village Council meetings.

3) We must me more aggressive in police presence and maybe increased no panhandling signs as an effort to keep panhandlers away from our downtown district and hopefully our Village as a whole.

4) I believe the History Club has been sort of a muckraker over the past few months. The information and research they have done both in the advertisements and their website is well done and informative. I am not sure if the club is going about it in the right way and unfortunately is politically motivated. Hopefully it will bring about smarter decisions by the people who work and are elected to the Village and not an uglier political atmosphere throughout town.

5) I believe that the plan has both helpful and less useful aspects. For example, gateway signage at thoroughfares will build a sense of community while advertising the community to commuters. The land usage goals should be a focus of the council for the future. The residential development seems too aggressive and I favor the ordinance passed last year that gave more ability to repair multi-unit homes. I would favor at least renewing and updating  it, if not creating a full new comprehensive plan.

6) There is always room to improve and we have a difficult situation being in an older town. We should enforce the zoning codes uniformly and more aggressively.

7) I can only speak for myself on this topic. I have been frustrated as I attended meetings throughout the past year noticing a pattern of voting on every resolution and ordinance. I promise, if elected, that I will research and discuss a topic and vote based on how I feel the resolution or ordinance affects the Village, not based on whether someone else on the Council supports it or not.

8) I think we must prepare for the expansion as it can become a harsh reality for the town. The council must attempt to keep as much land intact as possible from any expansion. We must prepare for an expansion by realizing what we may lose. We could lose the space that is the community garden and two parks at circle and Lehmer. The Altenheim property can be a safety net to maintain our already subpar amount of park space.

Mark Hosty

1) I am much nicer than reported.

2) I attended all of them

3) I believe this is a village-wide issue not just Madison Street. When I see it anywhere in town, I call the police non-emergency phone number and report it. It’s an enforcement issue and I find the police to be very responsive.

4) This website is run by a group of cowards and I feel it has no role. It is set up to spew half-truths and serves no purpose except for its weak-minded founders to have a place to present their false realities without revealing their identities. I believe in communication but not when a person will not stand by their statements.

5) Yes, it was about 11 years ago, and I feel it is time to rework this plan and review its goals. It is a living document that should be updated about every ten years.

6) Zoning is never done, I feel that it should adapt to changing needs and construction methods as time goes by. Changes should be made as needed.

7) I think with 11 people running it is natural to have different candidates gravitate toward one another. I do not think it would cause anyone to lose independence. I for one have always voted with my heart and I have never felt pressure to do otherwise.

8) I am not sure if this will happen anytime soon, but from my conversations with IDOT representatives it would have very little impact on Forest Park. I have been reassured that lane expansion could be done without taking any more land than is currently in the 290 trench.

Sam Tarara

2) I have watched every meeting in 2010: online, on cable television and in person.  When elected, I will make sure that all residents, especially our seniors, for whom transportation can be an issue, know how to access and see these meetings as well.  Too often the seniors, who have so much experience and wisdom to share, are often the last to get this information.

3) I know there are specific state and local ordinances against this practice and knowing our police department and their commitment to the rules of law, they have been very effective in dealing with this issue.  When elected, I will continue to work with the council and police department to ensure our residents do not have to deal with this issue, and when it does take place, our men and women in the police department on it quickly!

4) To the best of my knowledge this club has not existed until this campaign.

5) Based on my study of the plan, the basic framework is still relevant.  When elected commissioner I will continually monitor the need for updates or changes that reflect the current activities within the village and of course what’s in the best interests of all the people of Forest Park.

6) In my opinion, zoning codes for any village or community that is over 100 years old should be constantly looked at for potential changes and/or modifications that will benefit the people of Forest Park.  In my business as a real estate professional and property owner I am very familiar with zoning codes.  I believe we’ve made good progress and when elected will continue this diligent review and education of future zoning discussions.

7) I will continue to use the same INDEPENDENT & THOUGHTFUL knowledge and decision-making abilities that I have used in my successful and flourishing small business, in the role as your next commissioner.  Bottom line: there will be vigorous debate, no doubt, but I will always stress my point and I’m sure in many cases, agree to disagree.  That is the truest sense of democracy and what the residents of Forest Park deserve.

8) I am aware that the village has been attending the task force meetings that have been conducted.  When elected, I will make sure we are a player at the table and to the greatest extent possible, make sure the best interests of Forest Park are at the forefront of any discussions.

Michael R. Curry

1) I have a passion for helping people and believe that everyone should be treated with respect and dignity.  On a more personal note, I used to be a percussionist in high school and college, including playing in jazz band and percussion ensemble.  I love college football and the Chicago Bears (but if you read the Forest Park Post, you already know my passion for football).

3) We should: (1) increase our police presence on Madison; (2) encourage people not to donate money to panhandlers; and (3) ask people to notify the police when panhandlers are on Madison.  If you discourage the panhandlers and do not give them money they will find other areas to relocate and receive money.

4) It has no role in the Village and is anti-Forest-Park.  If you want a true organization focusing on our history please visit the Forest Park Historical Society which is a great organization that truly cares about preserving Forest Park history.    

5) We should review and update our comprehensive plan.

6) The changes we made are a great start but we need to continue revising the zoning code.  I have been working on rewriting the zoning code and will present revised sections of the code to (1) the Zoning Board of Appeals to review and make suggested modifications; (2) public citizens to review and make suggested modifications; and (3) elected officials to review and make suggested changes.

7) I will always make decisions that are in the best interest of Forest Park regardless of the person supporting/opposing the issue.  I will not compromise my values, ethics or integrity and vote in opposition to something that is good for Forest Park.  I truly hope the candidates will be able to vote independently.  Over the last few years we have seen elected commissioners vote in opposition to Forest Park because they let personal feelings get in the way of proper/sound judgment.        

8) I do not want the expansion to take our homes or increase potential safety risks in the area.  However, an expanded Eisenhower will reduce traffic congestion on Roosevelt Road and Madison Street which will benefit us residents.

Rory Hoskins

1) I enjoy driving across the country with my wife and kids.  Taking them to President Obama’s Inauguration is one of my favorite memories.

3) I would encourage the police department to enforce our ordinances.

4) I do not know whether the Forest Park History Club has a formal mission statement, however it seems that do a thorough job of attributing sources.

5) Comprehensive plans need to be reviewed and updated periodically.

6) The recent changes to zoning codes were the product of meetings between staff and consultants.  It may be too early to say whether they are sufficient, but at this point I would not propose more changes without considerable public input.

7) It is up to each person who is elected to use their best judgment in making votes.  Each elected official has to be able to explain his or her votes to their constituents/neighbors, and should be able to sleep at night knowing that they are acting in the best interests of residents.

8)  Eisenhower expansion is six to ten years away.

Chris Harris

1) Well, if we are looking for the ‘fun facts’ I can give you one. When I was in the eighth grade I was one of the fortunate few to get to play in the National Junior Super Bowl, still a great memory and quite honestly the peak of my short-lived amateur athletic career!

2) I attended every council meeting this past year.

3) I’ve run into this once or twice and more often near CVS and Dunkin Donuts at Harlem and Circle and towards Thornton’s at Harlem and Jackson. As most people are aware the crime rate at the latter two areas is much higher, and that itself needs attention and is a topic that should be discussed with some vigor. As for Madison Street, if you are going to have a showpiece shopping district you cannot have the people coming into your community to spend their money being harassed. This is not a problem that requires more than diligent enforcement of standard loitering laws. I would like to see a more active walking patrol than just the standard laps the police now take around the block.

4) I have had the chance to see the ads and check out the website. The name is a tad misleading, it seems to be more of a watchdog group and that is fine. Everyone should be held accountable for their actions and everyone at the village should be held accountable: the decisions and actions of the council, VA, police, etc. I guess the simplified answer is I have no problem being held accountable for any decisions I would make or be a part of.

5) I think there is some validity to it but ultimately we are talking about a 10-year-old document. The plan also included anti-renter ideas such as zoning out two-flats, which to me is part of the charm of Forest Park. We still see this battle today and only recently (in an election year) has the current administration relaxed on this issue. If you own a two-flat, and count on that income, you should not have to worry about making improvements, refinancing, etc.

6) I touched on this above. When it comes to the two-flat “non-conforming” code I am concerned that this was an election-year appeasement. If you look at the 2001 comprehensive plan it has very specific language to zone out two-flats due to “density issues.” I don’t think owners should have to give up income that they may rely on due to a false pretense. If density were an issue every development since 2001 would not have been a condo or townhouse (Madison Commons, The Grove, Brown Street, etc). I think these owners need to be able to function without any scare that they may be zoned out after the election.

7) I am not part of any formed slate. I have no personal problems with any of the candidates running and although I may know some of them better than others I remain independent. What you will get from me is a voice for what is the best for Forest Park and I plan to do that by making sure I have the constant pulse of the community. I plan on keeping on top of this with a door that will always be open, quarterly town-hall meetings and a very active and interactive social-media platform. The votes of the 5 council members should be the voice of many.

8) This has been talked about for a while and certain issues have changed since the initial idea surfaced. This needs to be carefully thought through and the Village needs to adopt a position, and put it on records so our neighbors and IDOT respect our concerns. The unfortunate part is our hands are a bit tied when it comes to some decisions, but a clear study that shows environmental, congestion and noise concerns that we are on record with is a must. Also, in my personal view, the Blue Line extension project should go hand in hand with any conversation about 290 as that can directly address some of the parallel concerns.

Steve Johnsen

1) In addition to being a contractor, I am also a certified I.H.S.A. sports official.  I do both football and basketball.  I am the chief on a football crew and we work every Friday and Saturday during the fall. Since my business is seasonal I have plenty of time during the cold months to officiate boys and girls high-school basketball games.  By and large I find high-school student athletes to be very respectful, which makes working their games quite a joy.    

2) Although I didn’t attend any meetings in the past year, I have seen most of them on television.  Since 1990 I have attended hundreds of village council and school board meetings as well as dozens of main street redevelopment and chamber of commerce meetings.  

3) When I was on the police department we had a zero-tolerance policy on panhandlers.  Years ago people would beg for money at the top of the Harlem Bridge and at the corner of Harlem & Roosevelt.  You don’t see much of that anymore because our police officers have been very proactive.  I suspect that the policy on the police department is the same today as it was 5 years ago.  I personally haven’t seen any panhandling on Madison Street recently, but for those who do, I suggest calling the police.
 
4) I am not sure there is an actual Forest Park History Club but rather a website by that name.  Its role, as far as I can tell, is that of an anonymous, self-appointed watchdog group that is motivated to disseminate information they think is important. 

Running for public office is the wrong thing to do if you can’t stand the sight of your own blood.  Having been the subject of many anonymous hits on websites and in the local paper myself, I can tell you that it doesn’t feel very good.  That notwithstanding, it is protected speech under the first amendment and I would never tell anybody they didn’t have a right to say it.  

My suggestion as you read these things is to consider the source and evaluate the information accordingly.

5) I participated in some of the planning meetings for the comprehensive plan.  It was a good plan ten years ago and, with a bit of updating, would be a good plan today.  The biggest problem with the comprehensive plan is we haven’t used it properly.  We tend to ignore it as much as we abide by it.

6) Being as Forest Park is over 100 years old, we have a mixture of very old and very new housing stock which runs the gambit from non-conforming-existing-use to completely updated.  Recognizing this, I think we would be doing ourselves a disservice if we didn’t devote a lot of attention, and money, if necessary, in developing new building codes. 

Once we develop a Forest-Park-specific-plan that we can all agree on, I strongly suggest that we stick to it and grant vary few variances to it. 

7) I believe elected officials should have the courage of their convictions.  Whether I agree with them or not, I have great respect for those who can argue their positions publicly and sway others to their side.  In the four terms I served on the school board, two of which I was the board president, I don’t think anybody who served with me would say anything other than I was professional and they enjoyed working with me.

8) Living on the 600 block of Thomas, I have valued neighbors that would likely be displaced if the Eisenhower were to widen.  Further, it would change the character of the block I live on.  That’s how it would affect me personally.  I am not sure someone who lives along Roosevelt Road would be as passionate as me. 

As in all things, we need to choose our battles wisely as they impact all Forest Parkers.  The Illinois Department of Transportation is a big opponent and we would have to do a very through cost/benefit analysis before deciding what is in the best interest of all of Forest Park.

Eric Connor

1) I love my job. Practicing criminal law, representing the indigent, as assistant public defender has been challenging and rewarding. It is also one of the three things I said I would never do. Another was to run for political office.

2) I think Six. Many others I watched on Comcast Friday evenings. I have also viewed many online.

3) Panhandling on a roadway is a Class A misdemeanor and those individuals are subject to arrest and prosecution. Panhandling on a sidewalk has been held to be Constitutionally protected, as long as other laws and ordinances are obeyed. I have found in my representation of these individuals at the fourth-district courthouse in Maywood, that a large percentage are suffering from mental illness. They deserve to be treated as such.

4) I have only viewed the site on one occasion. It seems to present one side of an issue and is politically motivated. I don’t know if I would characterize it as “history.” I think it is more like “argument.” Beyond that purpose, I don’t know if it will have any value.

5) The Comprehensive Plan of June 2001was a forward-looking document that placed 5-, 10- and 15-year goal on the table. Some of the recommendations have been accomplished. Some have become obsolete due to changing circumstances, but most have been left to languish. Some areas were never addressed. Part of the Plan’s goal was to have constant review and updating. This has not been done. The Plan should be redone and updated.

6) I have insufficient knowledge of the zoning codes and the updates to make in informed comment. I know that others have criticized it as not being adequate for the issues we face today.

7) Alliances are in theory, and in practice, problematic in relation to independent decision making. Political alliances, in my experience, only last as long as the individual consider it expedient. That being said, only some elected officially can remain independent. I intend to maintain my independence.

8) The reconstruction of the Eisenhower is inevitable, as the roadway between Mannheim and Austin need to be widened. This project is a decade in the future, in my opinion. Forest Park should be involved in any discussion and planning.

Questions

1) Tell us something about yourself that we haven’t read in this paper.

2) To everyone except the current council members: How many council meetings did you attend in 2010?

3) What do you plan to do about the panhandling on Madison?

4) What role does the Forest Park History Club have in the village?

5) Years ago, the village had a comprehensive plan. Is it still relevant; or should it be redone?

6) Are the changes that were made to zoning codes enough?

7) People appear have alliances in the election, will the candidates be able to vote independently once elected?

8) How do you feel about the possible Eisenhower Expressway expansion?

These questions were submitted by the audience at the Review/Chamber village board forum, on Wed., March 23, but were not asked because time ran out.