Chris Harris

I get asked quite often why I am running for mayor, and the “why” is easy. After being on the council for four years, I can see we need a change in leadership. Forest Park has become stagnant; our current mayor, after 20 years in village government, has become complacent. Village hall has processes that haven’t been updated in more than 20 years, and the town itself has suffered from a lack of long-term vision.

It’s time for a change. Technology, modern solutions and long-term planning need to be embraced. 

I have long been a proponent of best practices or “green” solutions when it comes to curbing flooding in the immediate sense. Our current mayor chose to allow condos and townhomes on every last piece of green space without making the developers provide water retention/detention systems. Condos and townhomes are great for squeezing multiple property tax dollars out of a single parcel, but having so many units without water retention/detention systems taxes our sewer system beyond belief with waste. 

On the other side of the coin, all these condos and townhomes cover what would be yards and greenspace that could absorb rain and now, with no place for the water to go, it pushes the rain into the sewer, and, ultimately, your basement. 

This is just a complete lack of forethought, which has led to more money for the village to spend as our town suffers. We need to embrace all green solutions and work with our neighbors to implement a focused agenda for flood remediation. 

As for the big picture with our sewers, I have asked multiple times at budget meetings and council meetings that we implement a sewer fund. This isn’t rocket science. We need to have “skin in the game” to receive grants to overhaul our sewers and right now we have none.

We need to stop the revolving door that Forest Park has become for young families. We cannot build a sense of community when we have great families move into town that have to leave when their kids reach high school age. I have been outraged for years that our current mayor has supported the leadership of Proviso high schools by throwing fundraisers for them and writing personal letters of endorsement. That is unacceptable. We need a mayor who works to change the status quo at District 209, not support it. 

A great start is supporting all three candidates in the Proviso Together slate: Ned Wagner, Claudia Medina and Theresa Kelly. Their reform-minded mission echoes mine, and I could not give them a bigger endorsement. 

As a village, we need to explore every option for higher education learning that puts the children at the top of the list. I have been working with Montessori Creative, exploring alternate options for Forest Parkers as well because competition can only increase and put pressure on D209 to pull itself out of the bottom of the barrel of Illinois high schools.

Other points of emphasis include: 

Freezing the village portion of property taxes immediately. 

Reinstating Summerfest and the fireworks and building civic functions that embrace community pride. 

Creating an office of economic development to usher Roosevelt Road into the next phase responsibly and 

Creating a village hall where all voices are welcome and respected.

On April 7, I ask for your vote in moving Forest Park forward. I look forward to bringing positive change, fresh ideas and great enthusiasm to the office of mayor.

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