When the village board convenes next Monday night two freshman commissioners will be sworn in. We hope they’ll usher in a new era in Forest Park politics.
The election is over and the finger-pointing and vitriol needs to stop. After Chris Harris and Tom Mannix take their posts next week it’ll be great if they operate independently and transparently like public servants should – qualities both of them waxed poetically about on the campaign trail.
Take heed, members-elect, you’re assuming an important position and you must be ready to hit the ground running. What’s more, you need not forge rigid alliances that could lead to the bitter divisiveness that plagued the last village board near the end of its term.
Mannix and Harris will fill commissioner seats once held by Mike Curry and Marty Tellalian. Tellalian gave up his seat and lost a bid for mayor. The freshman board members are articulate and are well versed when it comes to the nuts and bolts of municipal government, so Forest Parkers should be confident in their ability to serve.
But are these novice pols capable of independence? At least one campaign alliance was formed during the election: Commissioner Mark Hosty, Calderone and member-elect Mannix all ran on a late-in-the-game slate. Does this mean that Mannix will be as loyal to Calderone as Curry was? That’s anyone’s guess.
In a conversation with the Review, Harris pointed out that the voting records of the past four years are almost always 5 to 0; nonetheless, there were fierce ideological sides that were taken near the end of the last board’s term. These alliances often resulted in public arguments between board members that lasted longer than the actual meetings!
“I don’t have a magic wand, I can’t cause people to be collegial if they don’t have a desire to be collegial,” Calderone said in a recent phone conversation.
Perhaps, but during an endorsement interview, Calderone told the Forest Park Review that, if reelected, he would call a meeting to ensure that the divisiveness that was omnipresent on the last board did not permeate the new council.
Calderone clarified that what he said he meant to do is hold a “strategic meeting.”
“Whether or not strategic planning causes individuals to behave differently, I have no idea of how that is going to work,” he said.
“I was hoping there would be a sit-down,” Harris said. “He can control the ship.”
As for independence, Harris did not run on any slate, and he touts himself as the only person who “will bring an independent view.”
Mannix said he is looking forward to working cooperatively with all of the board members.
“In my experience there have been very few governmental bodies where everyone agrees one hundred percent of the time,” Mannix wrote in an email. “I will not always agree with everyone on the board, however, when we do disagree, I intend to have a civil dialogue regarding the differences.”
That has a nice ring to it. Hopefully these two live up to their capabilities.