The Review will make its endorsements in the race for the Proviso Township High Schools board in two weeks. So what follows is not based on educational policy or who might be the best stewards of taxpayer money. This editorial is solely based on the plain politics of counting and how that is playing out in the narrow world of Forest Park politics.

In a startlingly quick and entirely grassroots initiative, Forest Park has offered up two passionate candidates for the District 209 school board — Claudia Medina and Ned Wagner. They have now aligned with a third candidate, the veteran D209 board member Theresa Kelly, a longtime Maywoodian.

The basic math is that the trio of Medina, Wagner and Kelly — if elected — will work with ongoing board member Kevin McDermott of Westchester to form a four-person majority that can finally wrest control of this troubled district from the politicized hands of its longtime overlords.

Elect just the Forest Park duo and you have fallen short of creating the potential for the essential change that Wagner and Medina represent.

So how does this tie back to exclusively local Forest Park politics? Here’s how: All seven candidates running for either mayor or village council in the April election have pledged to actively support the Forest Park candidates for D209. Four of them have also announced their support for Theresa Kelly, rounding out the slate and potentially creating a progressive board majority.

In full support of the 209 Together slate are Chris Harris, a current commissioner now running for mayor; Dan Novak, an independent candidate for commissioner; and Rachell Entler and Joe Byrnes, commissioner candidates on a slate for the council.

Mayor Anthony Calderone and commissioners Mark Hosty and Tom Mannix, the slate mates of Entler and Byrnes, said in endorsement interviews last week that they will not back Kelly or any other candidate for the third open seat. They give various arguments that we find disingenuous. Calderone said he doesn’t know Kelly well enough to endorse her. Hosty and Mannix say Kelly has served on a failed Proviso board for too long (16 years) and it is time for the broom. A curious argument considering Calderone, Hosty and Mannix have either supported State Rep. Chris Welch during his long tenure at the helm of the Proviso high schools or been silent while this district swirled around the drain.

Kudos to Harris for recognizing that this campaign for D209 has become “a movement,” not a typical election of typical candidates. Good job by Novak for his simple observation that if you are strong supporters of Medina and Wagner and they picked Kelly, then you ought to respect their judgment and support the slate. And we’re happy to see, for multiple reasons, Byrnes and Entler break on this issue with the balance of their slate. 

The single biggest problem in Forest Park is the great difficulty in building a sense of community when so many families abandon the town to avoid Proviso high schools. All candidates for village office ought to recognize that enormous challenge. 

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