Photo by ALEXA ROGALS/ Staff Photographer

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.

Age: 72

Previous political experience:

 Park District Commissioner 2001-2007. Current Village Commissioner

Previous community experience:

Volunteer at the Park District(30 years)

Volunteer at Forest Park Community Center for events, delivering Thanksgiving baskets and Christmas baskets.(over 20years)

Volunteer for functions at St Bernardines.

Volunteer at the Fisher House at Hines Hospital.

Member of the American Legion

Member of Kiwanis

Member of the VFW

Member of Knights of Columbus


 Retired. I work part time at the Park District during the summer.


1 1/2 years of college.


1.      What is the present state of the village of Forest Park’s financial situation? What is being done and what should the village board’s role be in promoting economic development? 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?

The present state of the village of Forest Park’s financial situation is that we are currently operating with a deficit due to decrease funds revenue coming into the village, this includes a loss of businesses and non collected delinquent funds. I think the village council needs to support economic goals of the business community and work with local banks for small business loans. We need to utilize the economic development team.  We need to get building owners involved with rental properties. An empty storefront doesn’t help pay property taxes. Finally help prospective businesses put together a solid business plan and where the business should be 5 years out.

2.      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?

We have a cultural park committee and now the Prairie Path is involved. We should look at all aspects from a music venue to keeping it green space. I sought out a bid to demolish the current abandoned buildings. It was a solid bid that removed everything but no funds were available. We could take a close look at selling the front section for development. The money could be used for paying off the debt on the property and removal of buildings.

3.      Video gaming was the talk of the town over the past year. Did you have a stance on this issue? The debate seems to have divided the town. How do you think the village should move forward and heal?

When I voted for video gaming I thought it was a good idea to get much needed revenue.  A binding referendum was passed and it is now a dead issue. There is going to be people that want to keep this subject alive on both sides, however I say let’s move forward by not looking to the past. We should all be working together to better our community.

4.      Flooding continues to be an issue in the village. How can this problem be addressed? And paid for?

 The infrastructure of Forest Park’s sewer system is very old. A study was done to update our sewer system and it would cost the village roughly $60 million. We are always looking for grants to help upgrade the systems. For example grants were received for several streets and a number of allies that were upgraded in the past couple years. Another example is Forest Park working with IDOT to secure a grant for $4.9 million for the Roosevelt Road project . We should look at an affordable sewer tax. This sewer tax money could fund repairs and replacement of old pipes and water mains. Bonds could be sought for any upgrades to the sewer system and payment for these bonds could come from a sewer tax without going into the general fund or water fund. 

5.      What is Forest Park’s role as it concerns Proviso Township District 209 High Schools, if any?

District 209 is important to Forest Park. We have to educate citizens with high school age children to remain.. Fantastic things are happening at 209 and we need to make sure the public knows it.  Any updates on happenings at 209 should be on the Village web site.

6.      Transparency has been repeatedly noted by candidates and residents as an issue with the village. Do you believe Forest Park has a transparency problem? If so, how would you address it?

I think we miss the point by not using our website more. We need to let people know what is going on in village hall. What projects are happening and how we do business. If I am re-elected I plan to have a one night a month from 6-9 PM open door at Village Hall. This is to answer questions and address citizen problems. I also can be reached via my village email that I check on a regular basis to answer any questions.

7.      If you had to write a mission and vision for Forest Park, what would they be?                                   

My mission and vision for Forest Park is having a balanced Budget and Economic Development. Forest Park is a great community to live and work in. I want the best for this village and plan on working hard to make it happen.

8. Should Forest Park remain a commissioner form of government or change to a village manager form?

The commission form of government has been around for years. I think it would take a committee to fact find the advantages of a change of government form. Any changes should be by a referendum vote.

9. What issues should the Diversity Task Force be charged to pursue?

First of all we need to give this committee a budget. Forest Park is a welcoming community and we need to take advantage of it. Housing is an important issue along with being inclusive.  The committee should continue to educate the public on issues of diversity. I think the committee is on the right track. A report just came out showing Forest Park rate #1 out of 297 as a place to move to. We are also 7th out of 297 as a diverse community.

10.      What other issues do you feel will be important for the next village board to address? How should they be addressed?

I feel that we need to keep our staffing levels, i.e. Fire, Police, and Public works at their current levels to maintain public safety.

Upgrade our inspections department so they are digitally enabled.


Here’s what Byrnes told the Review about his candidacy:

Byrnes announces re-election run