Yum! We poor plebs are always warned that sausage making won’t be pretty, but let’s take a peek on the wild side to see how our village election is shaping up. 

Forest Park is funny about slates. Not ha ha funny but oddly, congenitally conflicted. Since the 2003 election, I’ve wondered aloud — Why don’t candidates align? Why do they align but try and keep it secret? Why do I have to find out who is aligning with who by checking lawn signs in Tony Calderone’s front yard – the day before the election?” 

The consensus has been that every Forest Park candidate is fiercely independent and true cowboy/cowgirl. Once elected, not so much.

So it’s news when budding lawn signs reveal that the Forest Park PAC has organized an actual slate of five candidates from the get-go and consists of three incumbents — Mayor Tony Calderone, commissioners Mark Hosty and Tom Mannix, and two newbies — Joe Byrne and Rachell Entler. 

(Full disclosure:  Amy Rita is chair and treasurer of FPPAC. Ms. Rita is also publisher of the Forest Park Post, a 6 times per year ‘journal’ where the FPPAC would like you to get your news instead of this or any other newspaper. She is also one of three Police and Fire Commissioners appointed by the mayor.) 

The PAC slate has generated one big question among Forest Park voters: why did Byrne and Entler align with the PAC and what is their allegiance to it? 

Byrne’ and Entler’s response to these questions are similar: both say they were recruited by the PAC, both say it “made sense” to fill in the PAC slate, both say they are fiercely independent and have their own agendas, both say they met separately with Calderone, Hosty, Mannix and each other, and vetted all to their satisfaction. 

None of that explains why neither chose to run as an independent candidate, but I’m sure they will be asked the question again. And both are old enough to know there are no free lunches.

Why does this matter? Because recent village council history offers a mountain of evidence that Mayor Calderone does not tolerate agendas, initiatives or views other than his own. Non-Calderone certified ideas have been the chronic breaking point for village progress, civility and independent electeds for at least 16 years. Look it up. 

Additionally, elected independents that propose non-Calderone certified ideas are ostracized, i.e. punished, by the mayoral majority, often to the point of being prevented from carrying out their duly elected responsibilities. Senior village staff have been known to be complicit in supporting Calderone’s need for complete control. 

Forest Park’s list of shunned independent electeds is impressive and getting lengthy: Patrick Doolin, Terry Steinbach, Mike Curry, Rory Hoskins, Marty Tellalian and Chris Harris.  Perhaps Byrne and Entler should have chatted with these previous electeds for their differing point of view. 

Dan Novak, also new to village politics, is running an energetic, grassroots campaign as an independent. He says the PAC is “interesting” but by its nature requires “allegiance.” Novak is looking to represent and engage a wide range of village residents – and keep them engaged, which is an idea not floated here in about 20 years.

Harris, incumbent village commissioner, is running an independent mayoral campaign against incumbent Calderone, and I hope he wins.

Given the selection of candidates, here’s the best deal for the April 7 election:

Tom Mannix has got to go. He is toxic, he is dark, he brings nothing but ick to our town.

Tony Calderone has got to go. Calderone is a thin-skinned authoritarian with no new ideas and Forest Park is stuck in a way that has nothing to do with the economy. 

The proof positive is recent. Calderone broke his trust with Forest Park, finally and irrevocably, as the wacky puppeteer behind the outrageously cynical two year charade that produced the not-new-at-all Comprehensive Plan. Calderone used and abused everyone in this village-wide waste of time. Faux meetings, faux steering committees, faux surveys, faux input, faux research, faux analysis, faux consultants, faux Plan, Faux Park.

We don’t know why Calderone feels such contempt for his constituents, but we do know there will not be enough independent commissioners on the new council to stop him from abusing the privilege of the mayoral office, again.

Calderone has got to go. 

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