Below are candidate-submitted answers to a biographical survey the Forest Park Review sent out to all commissioner candidates running in this year’s elections. Candidates full, unedited responses are printed.
Don’t miss your chance to hear commissioner candidates debate the issues.
The Forest Park Review is partnering with the Chamber of Commerce to host a commissioner candidates forum at 6:30 p.m. on March 21 at Forest Park Middle School, 925 Beloit Ave.
Previous political experience: Wheaton College Student Government 2 years,
Wheaton College Class Vice President 1 year, Class President 1.5 years. Helped Rory Hoskins in both his previous campaigns for commissioner and State Representative. Helped in all areas of his campaigns from door knocking, fundraising, mailers, office staffing and strategic planning.
Previous community experience: remodeled a number of residential and commercial properties in Forest Park. Work with local small business to expand and grow their business. Young Ambassador for Opportunity Internationals Chicago chapter.
Occupation: Small Business Owner
Education: Business and Economics degree from Wheaton College and Social Media Certificate from Triton College.
1. What is the present state of the village of Forest Park’s financial situation?
I believe it is not sustainable with its’ current spending and revenue streams.
2. What is being done and what should the village board’s role be in promoting economic development?
As one who is involved in a number of small businesses in Forest Park I see very little being done by the current board members. The village board along with the village administrator should be active in seeking out new businesses to come to Forest Park. They also should be working with current businesses to figure out ways to help them expand. It could be as simple as waiving some building permit fees for a local shop so that they can more cost effectively remodel their store front, or it could be a sales tax revenue share which typically is only done with large businesses for the first five years they are in Forest Park filling a vacant store front. This would mean the Village is getting its full share of the property taxes since no vacancy can be filed with the assessors office and the small business might be getting an extra $500 a year which covers their phone and electric bill each month or gives them more to market their shop which then brings more people to Forest Park to Shop thus increasing sales tax at other businesses.
3. What are the best tools for doing so and what else can the village board to help recruit new businesses and maintain the ones already here?
Social Media Marketing is going to be one of the greatest tools we have to promote the charm of Forest Park and bring more people into our shops and restaurants. Since it is not costly and is easy to implement I plan on making this one of my focuses if elected to the board. Also Village Board members need to actively work with local commercial real estate agents to seek out entrepreneurs looking to start new business or add on other locations. Meeting with the Real Estate Agents and the entrepreneurs to explain the positives of Forest Park and let them know they have the full support of the Village Council is crucial to getting good businesses into Forest Park. Another important aspect of maintaining the businesses that are already here is for the Village to spend locally when ever it can. The Village Holiday party, Police Department Holiday Party, and Fire Department Holiday party should only be held at restaurants in Forest Park. I understand it is also extremely important that all village board members work with the chamber and attend chamber lunches with members to gain insight on what the current business struggles are and what ideas collectively will strengthen the business community.
4. A representative from the National Park Service has spent the last year interviewing residents and designing a plan for how to develop the village-owned Altenheim property. How should the village board now proceed?
I believe that two parking / traffic studies where also done. I think those along with the National Park Service study and any studies conducted by PACE regarding their space around the park and the blue line should be opened up to the public, and a series of town halls should be conducted.
5. Video gaming was the talk of the town over the past year. Did you have a stance on this issue?
I do not have an issue with video gaming. I did have an issue with how the current board members and Mayor ignored the sentiment of the citizens and imposed their positions on the village.
6. The debate seems to have divided the town. How do you think the village should move forward and heal?
It’s done and over. It was a binding referendum so we just need to move on and not continue to bring it up.
7. Flooding continues to be an issue in the village. How can this problem be addressed?
We need to expand the sewer system. The Village has done studies in the past and knows what the problem areas are, but has not addressed them.
8. And paid for?
We need to cut expenses in the Villages General budget so that the $900,000 a year we are pulling from the water department can actually be saved and used to repair and expand our sewer system.
9. What is Forest Park’s role as it concerns Proviso Township District 209 High Schools, if any?
The Village Board should be in contact with the school board. Better schools makes for a better quality of life for all families and will keep more people from leaving when it comes time for High School. This will add greater stability to our village. We also need to take an active role in D91. Our next generation of leadership needs to have a complete education from day one so it is crucial that we stay engaged in all stages of their education.
10. Transparency has been repeatedly noted by candidates and residents as an issue with the village. Do you believe Forest Park has a transparency problem?
Yes, Forest Park has a huge transparency problem.
11. If so, how would you address it?
I would make sure that a full un-redacted copy of the Village’s Budget is on the website for all to review. I would make sure that the budget meetings are held in the evening when people can actually attend. I would make sure that full copies of the Village’s legal bills are placed on the Village’s website so that all citizens know the real issues the Village is having and hopefully by being completely transparent we as a board with the help of everyday citizens can work collectively to fix those past issues and ensure that they do not continue to happen regardless of what department they are from.
12. If you had to write a mission and vision for Forest Park, what would they be?
I would love for Forest Park to be a Village that included and respected everyone. I would love to see a Village hall that included and respected everyone. I would love for Forest Park’s Leaders and its Citizens to work together for the greater good of all thus making Forest Park one of the first choices for people to move to in the western suburbs.
13. Should Forest Park remain a commissioner form of government or change to a village manager form?
I am very open to any change if the citizens of Forest Park deem that it is needed. I think this should be one of the very first town halls the new board should have. I would love to have someone from Citizen Advocacy Center (CAC) come in and explain the various forms of government to all residents and council members, answer questions then open it for debate. This might need to take place over 3 or 4 town halls. This form of government is vastly different than Home Rule so we need to see all the positives and negatives to make an educated decision as a community as to which form is best for all.
14. What issues should the Diversity Task Force be charged to pursue?
Making the Village feel inclusive to all. Working with the Village Board, Mayor and Manager to make sure that the Village posts all job openings for all to see as well as work with them to recruit minority hires making Village Hall a more diverse workplace that reflects the make up of our Village.
15. What other issues do you feel will be important for the next village board to address? How should they be addressed?
I can and plan to make chickens a legal option for residents of Forest Park to raise them in their backyards! Oak Park allows Chickens and so should we. They are great in providing a supply of fresh organic non-GMO eggs, and offer better nutrition than nasty battery eggs. They offer free fertilizer, pest control, and will eat leftovers keeping food out of our sewer system and landfills. Sustainability and the environment are issues for all residents and if elected I would love to create a sustainability commission to look into and implement programs like allowing residents to have chickens and other actions that are pro environment.