The following is an email I sent to Mayor Anthony Calderone in response to a memo he sent to all commissioners upbraiding Commissioner Hoskins and myself for requesting more diverse voices be represented in Images, Inc.’s Key Person interviews.[Business, civic and religious leaders quizzed for plan, FPR July 10]

I sent this email to both the Mayor and [Village Administrator] Tim Gillian.

I wasn’t afforded an opportunity to have people I thought worthy added to the list nor did I even get a response from Tim or the Mayor to my email, but that’s fairly standard as being talked at is much more the norm than having conversations.

Mayor, I can assure you my response was not ‘knee jerk’ — although this retort seems to be steeped in defensiveness and the usual cloak of exclusiveness, not inclusiveness.

For the record I never once mentioned the words; ‘minorities’ or ‘racial’ or ‘ethnic’– I questioned the diversity and the fact that it is a list of ‘the usual suspects.’ How do we get fresh ideas when we ask the same people — over and over?

If you think that list of people reflects the demographics of our community then you are living in a bubble of exclusivity that does not acknowledge census numbers or common sense.

So if someone actually asked me for my opinion I would have loved to offer up ideas such as:

  • Someone from our community involved groups like the Community Garden that is fueled by a different generation (Gina Thomas, Jessica Rinks or Michelle Woehrle) who take pride in this Village in a ‘different way’.
  • Or a new business owner in town who is very involved in the chamber such as Joel Foster.
  • Or perhaps a lifelong resident who has great pride in the village but also has intimate knowledge of the history like a Mark Rogovin?
  • Maybe Rec board member and rental property owner Jennifer Wolfe, as I think it is important that in a town with such a high number of renters that they are represented in person and from a landlord point of view. On that same note, a long time renter should be included.

I think there are some great choices, I think Jill Wagner is a perfect choice as a vested, involved, citizen -that actually is a fresh voice — and of course you need a stalwart like David King, but why not have a more diverse list than ‘the usual suspects?’

Christopher Harris
Commissioner, Village of Forest Park

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