It is a lot of pressure to put on a young man’s shoulders. But we feel extraordinarily optimistic about the news that Matt Walsh, still just 19, is running for the park board in the April election.
We’re not handing out endorsements five months ahead of the election. And we don’t have any fundamental gripes we need to address about the current park board members.
Instead, our optimism is based on Forest Park having a son of the town – born, raised, schooled – who sees such promise and such connection in this village that he is ready to make another run for elective office. You’ll remember that in the spring of 2011 Walsh ran a positive and credible campaign for village commissioner.
We’ve all seen arrogant youngsters run for office in various places over the years. It is some sort of game, feeds some sort of unscratched ego void. That’s not the case with Walsh. A student at DePaul, Walsh is smart and he is savvy. He is also thoughtful, remarkably grounded and very well versed in both the specifics of local issues and in the historical perspective that puts those issues in context.
A kid who grew up at the park, whose dad was president of the youth soccer league, says the park district race is important and cites two major issues. He wants to understand more clearly the board’s choice to cancel next year’s 4th of July fireworks. He, like others we’re sure, also wants to help move the parks forward on the stalled Roos building expansion.
Walsh took the fall semester off from college and went to work for the Obama campaign as a field organizer in Virginia – a critical state the president won in the November election. Undoubtedly he will bring the ground game experience and strategies he learned in that sophisticated arena and see how they might apply in his evolving hometown.
Matt Walsh is a young fellow with an old soul. That’s an appealing combination in a town like Forest Park which needs fresh energy but prefers that energy to be well-rooted.