At the Village Council meeting on August 13th citizens gathered to speak out against vile tactics used by a sitting commissioner against his constituents, but better put: his neighbors. We’re a small enough town that you aren’t blindly lashing out against a group of people that you haven’t talked to or know their faces: In Forest Park these are your neighbors.

Going after, by doxing and slandering, your neighbors is beyond the pale. This was once left only to the political victims of Mayor Calderone, with the help of his loyal henchman, Commissioner Mannix. This reestablishes a new low – these tactics being used on Forest Park residents whose only ‘crime’ was participating in democracy by passing a petition, or even worse, being the spouse of one of those people (an unbelievable low).

I firmly believe this is a warning shot to all of those who are considering running and participating in democracy in our upcoming elections. Do not let the bullies win. 

At the council meeting I spoke out about all of the tactics used by Calderone in the last municipal election, and that as a long-time political associate of Mannix’s (they were on 2 slates together) the Mayor is perfectly fine with these tactics. He is. I also mentioned that the attacks against myself and some of my supporters not only came from campaign associates, but directly from his family.

After the council meeting, waiting for me as soon as I exited the door of village hall, was one of those people – I didn’t mention him by name but he must have a guilty conscience. The Mayor’s cousin, Nick Tricoci, immediately got about an inch from my face and started yelling that ‘how dare I bring him up’ and implying that I was lying. Well, I still have the screen shots and the Review even mentions the attacks in an article from April 14th, 2015 “Mostly Feisty, A Little Contrite, Calderone Assesses Election,” where the mayor describes Mr. Tricoci’s attacks as ‘he may have been a little over-excited’. 

On this past Monday, in what the Review described as ‘an altercation’ (to me an altercation implies the two parties being somewhat willful participants, I was walking away the whole time and telling him I would not engage him and reminded him of a few citizens he went after whose only ‘crime’ was helping my campaign) Mr. Tricoci followed me out into the parking lot and continued to yell lies and debunked rumors. Thankfully Commissioner Byrnes was there, as was Chief Aftanas, to finally defuse the attack. 

I’m sure if this gets published we will see the familiar family names of  Nick Tricoci and other members of the Mayor’s family attacking me, as they do whenever I question something on social media – and of course not on the issues or disagreements over how I voted on the council. It will be personal attacks rooted in rumor and debunked nonsense. They will be vicious. You will also see fake Facebook profiles that only pop up around election time and viciously attack opponents of the mayor and his slate, or as it looks like now – referendum opposition. Attempting silence through intimidation. Can we finally say enough to this? I sure hope so. Let’s get more people involved in the process, more people running for office, more people looking for positive change – and with that we don’t let the bullies win.

Chris Harris

Former Village Commissioner, mayoral candidate and Forest Park resident