Mayor Anthony Calderone is endorsing the two Forest Parkers who are running for the Proviso High School District 209 school board on the 209 Together slate. But Calderone says he has not made up his mind about the third member of the slate, longtime incumbent board member Teresa Kelly.
“I don’t know her enough yet to have a final decision,” Calderone said.
But the Mayor is enthusiastically backing Forest Parkers Ned Wagner and Claudia Medina, Kelly’s slate mates.
“These are two great people from my hometown who are interested in playing a part in improving the high school education with the school district that serves Forest Park, and because of that, in and of itself, I am putting my full faith and support behind them,” Calderone said.
Connie Brown, the campaign manager for the 209 Together slate, said she is grateful that Calderone is supporting Medina and Wagner. She said Calderone told her that Medina and Wagner’s names will be on the palm cards distributed by Calderone’s supporters on Election Day in April.
“That’s very possible,” Calderone said. “I am fully backing them. What that means is any way I can help spread the word about their candidacy for 209 I’m going to do that.”
But Brown would like Calderone to also support Kelly, who is running for her fifth term on the school board.
“The one thing that is imperative is that all three of these candidates on our slate need to be elected to effect any kind of change,” Brown said. “If only two of the people [on the slate] are elected it really is not going to make the change that is required to create high-performing schools for all of our children.”
Calderone, who is running for his fifth term as mayor, said he didn’t know if he or his political action committee, Forest Park PAC, would be contributing any money to the 209 Together campaign. As of Dec. 31, 2014, Forest Park PAC had a cash balance of $32,111.91 according to state records.
“I don’t know that we’ve even talked about that at this point,” he said.
Some political insiders expect Calderone to quietly support Shawn Te Raines-Welch, a lawyer who is the wife of the former longtime president of the D209 school board, state Representative Chris Welch. Raines-Welch is running on the Children’s First Party slate which includes incumbent Francine Harrell and Theodore “Teddy” Matthews, a youth minister at the Rock of Ages Baptist Church in Maywood.
“This is all pure speculation on the part of people who are not properly informed,” the Mayor said. “They’re guessing.”
Calderone, who supported Chris Welch in his hard-fought and close state representative primary race against Forest Park Commissioner Rory Hoskins in 2012, said he has not made up his mind about whether to support a third candidate in the D209 race or which candidate that might be.
“We as a group have not made a decision,” Calderone said. “My concern is supporting candidates that we feel are going to be good, positive contributors to the 209 board. We definitely have identified the two, the Forest Park candidates. We’re going to put our full faith and support behind them. You know we still have a ways to go before Election Day.”
Brown, who had discussed the campaign and support for her candidates with Calderone, said she does not expect Calderone to endorse or support Raines-Welch.
“He has not said this verbally, but it is my understanding that that will not happen,” Brown said. “It is, of course, a concern so we’ll see.”
Calderone says that just because he supported Welch against Hoskins three years ago doesn’t necessarily mean he will support Welch’s wife for the school board.
“Allegiances and the desire to back people, you know, things like that change, that’s fluid,” he said. “When I say change, I mean not in the midst of a current election cycle, but over time. Somebody I may have supported in the past I may not support in the future. Each election cycle I think we need to size things up and see how it’s all playing out.”
Chris Harris, Calderone’s opponent in the mayoral race, is supporting all three candidates on the 209 Together slate including Kelly.
“He has endorsed the three of them and has been a supporter and has been at several of our meets-and-greets,” Brown said.