On Thursday evening, the Review and the Chamber will perform our quadrennial duty and happily host a campaign forum featuring candidates for Forest Park’s village government. The event, which starts at 6:30 p.m. at Forest Park Middle School, will have two parts. One-half will feature the two candidates for mayor — incumbent Anthony Calderone and current commissioner Chris Harris. In the other portion, we’ll focus on the five candidates for the four commissioner seats. 

The questions, almost entirely, come in writing from citizens attending the session. The questions are sometimes combined, clarified and followed up on by the moderator, this time around Dan Haley, publisher of the Review. 

Already the Review has conducted its endorsement interviews with all of the candidates. This year, in a new twist driven by the pressure of time and our somewhat smaller editorial staff, the endorsement interviews were conducted with groups of candidates. First we interviewed the two mayoral hopefuls and the following day all five commissioner candidates gathered for an interesting joint session.

Next Wednesday, March 25, we will publish our endorsements in these races as well as in the District 209 Proviso Township high schools contest. Rebuttals from those we choose not to endorse will run on Wednesday, April 1. Election Day is Tuesday, April 7.

Message to the governor

In a unanimous vote last week, Forest Park’s village council sent a clear message to Gov. Bruce Rauner that his budget plan will not pass muster with local officials in our village. The painful budget proposal from the rookie governor distributes painful, sometimes impossible pain across the entire state.

But Rauner takes a hard cudgel to local governments by proposing to sharply reduce the percentage of state income taxes redistributed to local taxing bodies. The hit on Forest Park municipal government would be a whopping $700,000. We find that an impossible amount and believe the strong Democratic majorities in the legislature will not let it stand.

That said, pain is coming because Illinois is broke. Somewhere, at some level, this failure to govern is rolling into our town. Resolution or no resolution. 

Upgrade on Madison

Take a 360 degree look at the intersection of Harlem and Madison and here’s what you see: A handsome old commercial building housing an ugly liquor store specializing in exploding window signs. A recently rebuilt Wendy’s. A currency exchange — well, there’s never been a good looking currency exchange. And, at this moment, on the northwest corner, a long-vacant lot.

Welcome to Forest Park (and Oak Park)!

But there is hope. As the Review recently reported, that vacant lot will soon be converted into a small retail strip, featuring a Starbucks purloined from just up Madison Street. We’re looking forward to the promised upgrades, seldom standard in a strip mall setting, including outdoor seating and a drive-thru for Starbucks. Also featured will be a corner sign announcing a welcome to Forest Park. No names, please, Mr. Mayor.

We look forward to this providing an upgrade to the east end of Forest Park’s downtown. 

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