It wasn’t clear for a time if Forest Park voters would have a choice for mayor in this April’s election. Commissioner Chris Harris passed petitions to file for both mayor and for reelection as a commissioner before finally deciding having a contested election for the top spot was too important to pass up.
Any incumbent looking for his fifth term in office needs a determined challenger. Richie Daley needed to be challenged as he slid into a term too many. In neighboring River Forest a few years ago, Frank Paris, a very effective long-term village president stayed one term longer than he was capable of serving with vigor and fresh energy. It was a long, sad four years.
With Chris Harris raising legitimate questions as to whether Mayor Anthony Calderone has gone stale, it will force the mayor to up his game and make his case for why stability trumps fresh blood.
We’re interested in hearing from both Calderone and Harris over the next 60 days. For us Calderone needs to convince voters that he has a proactive plan to move Forest Park ahead. Past accomplishments are well and good. But they are in the past. Campaigns are about the future. Harris needs to convince voters that he has the capacity to govern and to govern inclusively. That is a far different role from serving as a back bencher on a council offering up criticism.
We’d ask both candidates to consciously elevate this campaign. Forest Park politics is far too personal. Both Calderone and Harris need to understand this isn’t about them, it is about the future of this terrific town.
Rauner and the Park
Well, here’s an issue we can argue both sides of. Gov. Bruce Rauner has put the kibosh, at least temporarily, on a raft of state spending approved in the waning months of the Quinn administration. We get that. This state is broke, and with the temporary income tax hike expiring, it is getting more broke.
So is dolloping out lovely grants for worthwhile projects in local park districts across the state a worthwhile expense or just gravy? On the macro level it looks like gravy. But on the ground in Forest Park, it looks like $400,000 promised as the last essential piece to fund the vital new Park District of Forest Park expansion onto the Roos property. Nearby, park districts in Oak Park and on Chicago’s West Side have also seen funding frozen.
We’d urge the park district to move forward with its spring groundbreaking for the new recreation center. Funds are adequate to build a great project. And over time the state funding will sort itself out or other funding sources can be identified to put the finishing touches on this key local effort.