Forest Park officials unveiled the long-talked-about village Diversity Commission at Monday’s village council meeting, approving the ordinance creating it, and appointing six residents to serve on it.
Describing the commission as “pertaining to all things that pertain to diversity,” Mayor Anthony Calderone said creation of the commission fulfills a promise made last year.
“We want to work on being advocates,” he said, noting the commissioners will be responsible for holding hearings and ultimately making recommendations to the council.
Calderone acknowledged that other communities have similar groups but said the Forest Park version is not modeled after any particular municipality.
“We wanted to get started for quite a while,” Village Administrator Tim Gillian said, citing Forest Park as a “very diverse community.”
According to the ordinance, which was approved 5-0, the mission of the commission will be “to promote social harmony and deter prejudice, discrimination and intolerance through educational and action programs.”
Nick Ardinger, Tom Holmes, Trudy Roznos, Mike Thompson, Scott Watson and Katie Webster were appointed as the commission’s initial appointees with a seventh position to be filled in the future. Although members of the Diversity Commission will eventually serve three-year terms, the terms of the initial appointees are staggered. Terms of Roznos and Thompson will expire next year, with those of Ardinger and Holmes expiring in 2018, and those of Watson and Webster expiring in 2019.
The commission is scheduled to meet on the fourth Thursday of the month with the first meeting planned for June 23.
According to the ordinance, village officials determined that it is “necessary, proper and in the best interest of the village” to form the commission “to create awareness and encourage tolerance involving the understanding and acceptance of all people, including, but not limited to, those who have different racial, religious, and ethnic backgrounds, sexual preferences, abilities, gender, educational and economic levels.”
The ordinance identifies the commission as a “resource for experience and information on diversity issues” that will “serve in an advisory capacity to the mayor and the Village Council.
“They shall help to enrich the social and intellectual life of all residents through educational and social programs,” the ordinance continued. “They shall facilitate awareness and promote the understanding and acceptance of all people, especially those who have different racial, religious and ethnic backgrounds, sexual preferences, physical limitations, gender, educational and economic levels.
“They may invite and enlist the cooperation of racial, religious and ethnic groups, community organizations, fraternal and benevolent societies, veterans organizations, professional and technical organizations and other groups to assist in their mission.”
Appointments to the Diversity Commission were approved along with appointments and reappointments to 10 other boards and commissions. Terms of the other appointments range from one to five years.
Appointees included Fire Chief Steve Glinke and Craig Lundy, reappointed, and Police Chief Tom Aftanas, appointed, to the E-911 Emergency Telephone System Board; Paul Barbahen, Kathleen Garness and Lillian Coleman, reappointed, to the Ethics Commission; Vanessa Moritz, reappointed, and Marge Zwaldo, appointed, to the Firefighters Pension Board; Amy Rita, Brad Zandstra and Steve Hinton, reappointed, to Fire and Police Commission; and Andrea Blaylock and Karen Childs, reappointed, and John Kokoris, appointed, to the Library Board.
Also, Diane Brown, Paul Barbahen and Kevin Harnett, reappointed, and Marsha East and Elizabeth O’Connell, appointed, to the Plan Commission; Diane Eggers, reappointed, and Patricia Scott Albrecht, appointed, to the Police Pension Board; Roy Sansone and Michael Thompson, reappointed, and Jordan Kuehn, Julie Bereckis and Jenna Smith, appointed, to the Recreation Board; John Hosty, Terrance McMahon and Michael Smith, reappointed, and Kathleen Gerrans, Richard Leib and Jeanne Coatar, appointed, to the Safety and Traffic Commission; and K. Austin Zimmer, Kevin Hibbitts, Jeff Chan and Ray Paulin, reappointed, and Kerri McBride, appointed, to the Zoning Board of Appeals.
Commissioner Dan Novak thanked all residents for volunteering to serve on the various committees.
“For them to put the effort in just to make this place better, we truly appreciate it,” he said.
Calderone agreed, saying, “Every little bit helps.
“All of us cannot thank you enough. Our hats are off to you.”
Calderone asked those appointed and reappointed who were in attendance to stand and be recognized, asking them to identify themselves and the board or commission on which they will serve.