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: 49

Previous political experience:

2016-2018: Involvement in Let Forest Park Vote, Canvassing Door-to-Door, Election Day Volunteer

Previous community experience: I have worked at FP Rib Fest and FP Music Fest. In my business community, I have served on the local “Taste of Roselle” board, created and

participated in a community business association including spring and holiday themed walks, volunteered at chamber events including scholarship fundraising and bingo, as well as participated in the annual Rotary fish release.

Occupation: Small Business Owner, Printing Plus of Roselle, Inc.

Education: Bachelor of Science Degree from Loyola University Chicago

Certificate in Business Administration from University of Illinois Chicago

1. What is the present state of the village of Forest Park’s financial situation?

The Village has been operating in deficit for several years with a current budget deficit of $1.9 million.

2. 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?

Currently there is no staff promoting the development in Forest Park, although we do have an individual on retainer. With excellent access to Chicago via rail and road, we should engage with the FP Chamber members as well as current businesses and prospective companies expressing interest in our proximity to talented employees in a low-unemployment setting; finding companies that are seeking a diverse work force in a community that offers affordable home prices, walk-to business district, thriving parks and library services. We are a “hidden gem” and have become a popular choice for millennials to live. We could extend that popularity to employers seeking workers as well.

3. 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 advocate a Town Hall meeting which has been promised from the current administration, and determining the best and highest use for the village-owned property, one that meets the requirements of its future use including the “quiet enjoyment” stipulation of the Altenheim residents. Also, we should reconsider both traffic studies that have focused on the access to/from the Madison/Van Buren/Des Plaines corridor as it currently stands.

4. 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?

I did participate in the right to vote on video gaming. Recognizing the issue has been decided by the voters, new leadership can move us forward by engaging with all residents, immediately starting with elected officials being available through regularly scheduled meetings such as “coffee with the board” on Saturday mornings, where elected officials and their constituents as well as business owners and residents are more available to discuss village issues.

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

Continue to work with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District for flood abatement improvements, continue the construction of green alleyways, and the potential addition of green space such as pocket parks, separation of sewer and rainwater systems in areas where those systems currently share the same infrastructure. These can be paid by migrating income from the water fund revenue towards infrastructure improvements.

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

As part of Proviso District 209, we can be supportive of our high school through notifications and sharing of academic achievements such as the PMSA National Blue Ribbon recognition, cultural and sporting events and promotions such as open houses and visits for current elementary school students.

7. 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?

Before this election and now running for Commissioner, getting information about the village has required research along with frequent FOIA requests, particularly regarding the budget. Yes, there is a transparency issue. I would suggest posting of budgets and make information available by download on the village website.

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

I have previously worked on a mission and vision statement for a local school district as well as my own business and I’ve found that developing them is a collaborative effort of many stakeholders. That said, I think the Village tag line “Big City Access, Small Town Charm” fully embodies the appeal of Forest Park and should be incorporated into its bigger mission and vision statements.

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

Changing forms of government requires a ballot referendum. If residents are polled about the topic and choose to get involved in the process of information gathering, discussion of the pros and cons, it may be something the voters want to consider.

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

Increasing awareness about job and business opportunities to have a village staff that better mirrors its resident population. Utilize intergovernmental relationships for posting of job opportunities throughout Forest Park and neighboring villages.

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

I feel the changes needed to address the village are already underway with an unprecedented number of new candidates running for office. Forest Park has proven to be a desirable community for those that grew up here as well as those that chose to make Forest Park their home. As the new elected officials gain a place in office, I believe we’ll wash away the political quagmire and have renewed interest and involvement in all the various commissions.

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