Just as the polls open on Tuesday morning, here are our thoughts as this long and unnecessary referendum on video gaming comes to its end.
How fitting that the final 24 hours of this way-too-hostile battle included allegations of lawn signs being stolen or defaced with some type of feces. Forest Park, we have got to do better than this.
The election is over. Voters, yes, finally voters, decided either that video gaming is OK and can continue or chose to ban it from Forest Park. This must be seen as the legitimate and final decision on this contentious issue. Doesn’t matter which side you’ve been on, how many petition signatures you gathered or how many Facebook messages you posted. This has to be over.
We were gratified a few weeks back when the Review convened representatives of the pro- and anti-gaming sides for a very good conversation and the anti-gaming duo offered up their promise that they will abide by the voters’ decision, that there will be no further electoral action on gaming. We expect the bar and restaurant owners who have supported gaming to take the same position.
It is a tough time in America to be talking about healing. Not our strong suit these days. But in Forest Park it is critical that conscious efforts be made to find common ground, shared values. It is incumbent upon the principal actors on both sides of this fight to look for opportunities to connect. We’ve seen some crossover tied to support for the reform agenda at District 209. Maybe that is an opportunity to share a goal.
We’re no Pollyannas. This has been a bitter fight. And as this Election Day passes, the April municipal election comes rounding into view. Today the Review reports on a slate of candidates forming around the mayoral bid of Rory Hoskins. Within several weeks we’ll know all of the candidates running in the spring.
There will be fundamental issues to debate. But let’s agree not to re-litigate gaming. As we’ve noted, ultimately this week’s election was in many ways more about how governing has come to work in Forest Park than about gaming. It was about the divide exacerbated these past three years rather than consciously narrowed.
We’re persuaded by those who see the current chasm as a scrum between Forest Park’s proud and wonderful blue collar DNA and a new and more progressive, more urban-aligned group of residents. But while we see the divide, we don’t see any good reason to pick sides. There is no reason these two groups of devoted Forest Parkers can’t work together. Whether your family moved to Forest Park 100 years ago or you’ve arrived in the past few years, every resident chose Forest Park because there is something great about this town. Let’s celebrate it.
This election is over. Congratulations to the winners. Congratulations to all of us for having survived it.