People who live and work in Forest Park expressed a wide range of reactions to the election of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States.
Some were shocked, saddened and/or angry. A.J. Altheimer, a graduate student at Loyola University’s Institute for Pastoral Studies, said, “I am truly disappointed and saddened by this election. I am at times afraid for myself, but ultimately I am afraid for so many others who don’t have the luxury of ‘blending in.’ As a Christian, no as a human being, I am offended by the hate and racism that has been and is still being displayed and accepted. These hateful people feel safe or even untouchable, and this is a very dangerous situation for everyone. For what he has said about women, minorities and other ramblings of a lunatic, that man does not have my respect.”
The reaction of Melanie Kinkaid, who works as a caregiver, was simply, “Shock. Deep sense of foreboding for our country. Great concern for marginalized groups. Grief not unlike losing a loved one.”
Others gave a more measured response. Tim Gillian, Forest Park’s village administrator, recognized that some people were elated by the results of the election while some reacted negatively.
“I fully understand the nervousness of people who may be affected by some of the rhetoric from this president-elect,” he said. “I understand their fears, but I believe that it will take some time for things to sort out in that regard.” He added that we’ll have to wait and see how the Trump presidency will filter down and affect Forest Park.
Joel Foster, a financial advisor with Edward Jones, did not think that the election of Donald Trump will have a long-term effect on investments. He acknowledged that there may be some fluctuations in the market short-term but added that if Trump does repeal regulations, some people will benefit and some will not. He said, “A long-term strategy is going to work no matter who is in office. Good companies are good companies.”
Some talked about the glass ceiling. Erin Scheiber is the clinic director at ATI on Harlem Avenue.
“I was shocked at the election results,” she said, “the message that it sent to our younger people is that our country is very far away from having a woman president. It shows us that we are more sexist than we thought. A man who has no political experience got elected because he has money.”
She added that in regard to the health care industry in which she works, she is sure there will be changes but she is waiting to see what those changes will be. “It will be interesting to see what he comes up with,” she said, “because obviously we need something.”
Jim Michael, who works in institutional advancement at Roosevelt University, analyzed the election results this way: “With the electoral college, presidential elections are all about shoring up votes in ‘battleground’ states, and clearly the Trump campaign knew those people better than the Clinton campaign. We aren’t ready for a woman president, it seems, especially one who is so closely associated with DC and ‘business as usual.’ More of a repudiation of Hillary than an embrace of Trump.”
Our Chief of Police, Tom Aftanas, added a little humor to his comments. “Personally, I am glad this campaign and election are completed. I was tired of watching the news and listening to both candidates. The only thing related to Trump and Clinton that I looked forward to is how they were portrayed on Saturday Night Live.”
On a more serious note, he said that he, like Tim Gillian and Erin Scheiber, aren’t sure how the new administration will affect his corner of the world.
“I suppose it is possible that any illegal aliens who are taken into custody who have ‘serious’ criminal histories may eventually be turned over to federal authorities,” he said, but “again, I have not heard that will take place.”
Arthur Zachariasz, an ICU registered nurse, had a unique perspective on the election results: “I could not help feeling surprised and in a sort of way enthralled,” he wrote in an email, “as I was witnessing not only a major historical event unfolding live before me, but the ultimate upset. I voted for Stein due to Sanders not being nominated. Democrats should be angry at the DNC for pushing Clinton through, and I cannot help feeling some sense of relief that Clinton and Kaine were not elected. If only Michelle Obama had run.”
Louis Cavallo, the District 91 superintendent, reacted to the whole election season by focusing on the positive light it shed on Forest Park.
“Regardless of how you voted in this past election,” he began, “the results have brought about a focus on some of the more negative aspects of society. Emphasis has been placed on what divides us and our distrust and fear of others not like us.”
Then he added, “I truly believe that Forest Park, our small diverse community, is a shining example of why the rhetoric and hate-speech is not who we, as Americans, are. You only have to visit our schools to see white, black, Hispanic, Muslim, and Christian children living, learning, playing and simply being together as a community. A true community. A community that cares for one another and supports each other, despite our differences. So the next time the results of the election begin to weigh on you as an adult, visit one of our schools and remember who we really are.”