While most of our attention in Forest Park is focused on toting up “Yes” and “No” lawn signs related to the almost-over battle for and against video gaming, we urge you today to raise your eyes from the lawns and to the skies. There, the Review reports today, a contested election for mayor of Forest Park is taking shape for April.

And, we would suggest that, even as deserved vitriol is spewed over video gaming in anticipation of Nov. 6, the race for mayor and village council is the real McCoy. This April’s village government election will tell us more about this community’s plans for its own future than any decision on gaming.

Certainly, the two are related. The bruising, multi-year slugfest between bar owners and frustrated activists reflects a lack of leadership in the mayor’s office in handling this issue originally. Or doing anything to limit the bitter split in the community since. Forest Park has devolved into factions without trust. And that is the definition of failed leadership.

But the future of Forest Park is much broader than whether gaming survives or is quashed. The big issues ahead of this town are diversity and inclusion, optimism and planning, innovation and strategy.

We are glad to see that Rory Hoskins, a longtime villager and former village council member, has decided to run for mayor. Hoskins is smart, deeply rooted, and active in town, political enough to be smart, smart enough to know he’s running for mayor of a small town.

We actively want to see a slate of council candidates grow up around Hoskins. We have seen in the past few incarnations of the Anthony Calderone era that Forest Park needs a deeper bench than one man as mayor. We need a council that brings actual talent and skills, that raises questions and debates issues, that is race and gender diverse.

And we hope that other mayoral and council candidates come forward. We anticipate that Calderone will run for yet another term. We’d advise him not to, but our advice has not been welcomed in this century. Calderone has eked out re-election in his last two go-rounds. It won’t be easier after the gaming debacle and with an energized, progressive and organized opposition, potentially led by a person as level-headed and well-liked as Rory Hoskins.

Let’s vote on video gaming and then let’s focus on the real prize.

Generational change

This might make three straight weeks that the Review has reported about a popular local business going on the market. Previously we noted that Starship Subs and Jimmy’s Place are available to the right buyer. This week we report that Ed’s Way, our independent local grocer, would be open to a buyer.

Sure, this might say something about the state of retail and dining in the world and/or in Forest Park. More likely these are stories about generational change and the demands of long hours on aging bodies. We’re hopeful that new buyers will arrive.

We can also offer up a hefty list of newly-opened or soon-to-open entrepreneurial dreams, including Cactus Grill, EPYK clothing, Takara, Mexican Republic, Studio 8, Tacabron, Soleful Massage, Harvest 365, Seva Beauty, Modern Electric, Living Fresh Market and Small Batch Barbecue. There’s probably more we’re missing. 

Everything changes.