Well, how about that. We love Forest Park.

As citizens of Forest Park, we aren’t always the best at following the golden rule: praise in public and criticize in private. Hard rule to remember on social media, but we can appreciate those who do. So when Mark Hosty posted that he had some signs that say I “heart” FP, I signed up for one.

He wrote, “Let’s show our love of our community and reunite, together we are stronger,” which is refreshing, positive and public.

Now I know some neighbors may not like all the signs in the yards, but get ready for it … it’s election season.

Nationally there is a presidential race (Nov. 8). Locally, though, our election cycle starts now as petitioners gather signatures and fill out the required paperwork to be put on the ballot for the April election. If you’re new to town, this is usually the “nicer” election cycle, a little less drama and mudslinging for good citizens to choke down.

Winston Churchill said, “It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government — except for all the others that have been tried.” So we will elect ordinary people to manage our commonwealth. Ordinary people who make decisions for our resources for the betterment of our community. Democracy is thrilling.

The Park District of Forest Park, with a five-member commissioner board, will have two seats up for election. Long-serving park board commissioners Roy Sansone and Cathleen McDermott were re-elected in 2011 for six-year terms. The last park board commissioner seat was uncontested, two years ago when Eric Entler was re-elected. It was in 2013 that John Doss was re-elected and underdog Matt Walsh, a fresh voice, was elected to serve on the park board. The park district oversees the land north of Harrison Street between Circle and Desplaines. The park district does not oversee the many pocket parks around town, which are managed by the village, which is a different electoral body. 

Elementary School District 91 (Betsy Ross, Garfield, Grant-White, Field Stevenson and Forest Park Middle School) has a total of seven board members who each serve a four-year term. The cycle splits the board into four or three seats that come up for election every two years. The District 91 school board has had many appointments to fill vacancies as board members have stepped down in the past 10 years. Board President Mary Win Connor, who has been on the board since 2009, her husband Eric Connor and Rafael Rosa have terms coming up in the spring. The other board members, Christine Ricordati (appointed to fill Corrissa Smith’s vacancy) and newest member Kyra Tyler (appointed to fill Nora Bowker’s vacancy) will get voter input too. Blake Harvey and Kim Rostello will continue to serve their terms. 

Then, there is the board for Proviso High School District 209, serving Proviso East, West and PMSA, also seven board members with four-year terms. Much like D91, four of the seven seats will come up for voter input in April, but input for this race comes from all the towns in the Proviso School District (Berkley, Bellwood, Broadview, Hillside, Forest Park, Maywood, Melrose Park, part of Northlake, Stone Park, Westchester and a few corners of other towns). 

Board President Teresa McKelvy (Berkley), Dan Adams (Melrose Park), Brian Cross (Westchester), and Kevin McDermott (Westchester) are the four members who are currently serving and have seats up for election. The other three board members, Theresa Kelly (Maywood), Claudia Medina (Forest Park), and Ned Wagner (Forest Park) will be serving the second half of their terms, which will come up for election in 2019.

There will not be a mayoral and commissioner election next year for Forest Park, which always adds to the conversations around town. It is, however, a mayoral election year for many of the Proviso Township partners, with whom we share our Proviso High Schools, which makes our neighbors to the west pretty excited. 

Finally, many voters in Forest Park were interested in having an opportunity to vote on Video Gaming at election time.  Although the summer petition had over 2,200 signatures, it was determined that the video gaming petition was short 275 signatures to meet the magic threshold to be put on the ballot.  So once again volunteers will be collecting signatures, in hopes of hitting the right target of registered Forest Park voters (both active and inactive) before the January 3rd filing deadline.

I haven’t been asked by anyone to sign a petition, so I don’t know who might be running for election or re-election in April. It is always a good idea to attend a meeting, even as an audience member if you are running for office and talk to some of the board members you know and ask for advice from people who are serving. Petition deadlines are approaching, so pretty soon someone might ask to sign a petition to be put on the ballot.

There are lots of resources available to candidates, including the Illinois Association of School Boards, Cook County Board of Elections, the village clerk, and election attorneys who can help in the process.

Serving your friends and neighbors in an elected position with the goal of uniting rather than dividing makes us stronger. We are lucky to share our hometown with so many generous people who give of their time and talents to build our town. We might be small in geography, but Forest Park has a giant place in our hearts. 

Do you “heart” FP?

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