Calderone won't seek re-election, sources say

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By Nona Tepper

After nearly two decades in office, Mayor Anthony Calderone will not seek re-election come April 2019, multiple sources have told the Forest Park Review. He has served five terms as mayor of Forest Park.

To some, Calderone's announcement is surprising. To others, perhaps not. In his email signature, Calderone quotes former President Lyndon B. Johnson, saying, "when the burdens of the presidency seem unusually heavy, I always remind myself it could be worse. I could be a mayor."

Calderone was elected mayor in 1999, after serving as a village commissioner for eight years. He has also served in various volunteer roles in the village, including the president of the Kiwanis Club of Forest Park, president of the West Central Municipal Conference, volunteering with the Lions Club and much more. A lifelong resident of the village, Calderone is the owner of Illinois Alarm Service, an alarm security firm. He has two children and attended Proviso East High School.

Calderone did not immediately respond to interview requests about why he has decided to leave the post, accomplishments he's proud of during his tenure, if he's prepping anyone to take his place, and any advice he'd have for those seeking to run.

The news comes on the heels of the shuttering of the Forest Park Post, a bimonthly journal that was run by Amy Rita, a long-time Calderone ally. In a forward in the Post, Rita wrote that she was closing the magazine to focus more on family, friends and her other businesses.

Calderone's step from power also follows the historic video gaming referendum, where a majority of residents voted the practice out of the village. Forest Park is the first community to publicly vote the practice out of town after the machines had already been installed. A record number of residents turned out for the vote, with more than twice as many showing up as compared to the last mayoral election. Many said they were voting against the practice because of how the village council—and particularly Calderone—handled the debate. Before the village council voted to legalize video gaming in October 2016, Calderone promised to honor a 2013 advisory referendum where residents decided by a 2-1 margin that they did not want video gaming in Forest Park.

His reverse of course caused sour feelings for many citizens, who felt their voice was not being adequately represented by those in power.

Forest Park has changed dramatically under Calderone's leadership, with the revitalization of Madison Street, cosmetic improvements to Roosevelt Road, purchase of the Altenheim property and much more. Police Chief Thomas Aftanas, Director of the Department of Public Works John Doss, Director of the Howard Mohr Community Center Karen Dylewski and more have been promoted under Calderone's tenure.

After winning the mayoral election in 2015, Calderone told the Review he would focus on better communicating with residents during this term and talked about hosting community forums with District 91 where residents could communicate with him.

"Despite the efforts to communicate with residents, we have to do more," he then said. "We have to figure out how to touch them. And I have to do better in listening and getting feedback from residents."

He said he would invite the new village council "together in different settings, all open to the public, to set goals" for the new term. Current commissioners Thomas Mannix, Joe Byrnes and Rachell Entler ran on a slate with Calderone; Commissioner Dan Novak ran as an independent.

Calderone said he would appoint members to the Diversity Commission, which has been created. He was compelled to create the Diversity Commission after proposing an ordinance banning residents from wearing their pants too low. "Should a community have any kind of standards and ideals?" he asked at the time. "Is that proper or should we accept whatever happens because it is acceptable in a different culture?"

Two other prospective mayoral candidates have emerged for the April 2019 race: Rory Hoskins and Chris Harris, who have both served as commissioners under Calderone. Harris has said he is also passing petitions for commissioner this round.

CONTACT: ntepper@wjinc.com

Reader Comments

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Gus Calderone  

Posted: December 5th, 2018 2:04 PM

Really Jerry? When did we get to know each other? As usual you are just spitting out words trying to make yourself relevant.

Sharyone Jayne Francis Battaglino from forest park   

Posted: December 4th, 2018 1:35 PM

Thanks Mayor Calderone for all the things you have done for The Village Merry Christmas to you and your Family Happy New Year and the best of luck in your future.

Jerry Webster  

Posted: December 2nd, 2018 11:37 AM

Yes Gus, I have had the misfortune of knowing you and if I said the sky is blue and rain was wet you would say that was untrue. Bob, you are right about some things. Like most politicians Tony had some good points and bad ones and I will leave it at that. Good bye Gus.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: December 2nd, 2018 11:19 AM

Couple things, Bob- there's documented proof of Anthony Calderone belittling people and begrudging them. THat's just a fact. And please, with sincerity, tell us just what " will show a different direction to the conversation here" mean?

Gus Calderone  

Posted: December 2nd, 2018 10:52 AM

Jerry, you seem to know me so well. Your comment is false as well.

Robert C. Cox from Forest Park  

Posted: December 2nd, 2018 10:47 AM

Growing up in FP as kid you form bonds, you get along with others a little, maybe fight a little, you make mistakes and sometimes you are on top of the world. I have known Tony Calderone a long time , we grew up about a block away. Despite our differences on historic preservation, building tear downs, neighborhood economic development, Proviso High Schools, I have never heard him be belittle or begrudge anyone. In politics you live your life in a fishbowl and certainly your public service will not please everyone. Mayor Calderone has alway been a Forest Parker who worked hard. put his best efforts in. He deserves a private life like anyone else. Being stuck in the past serves no one. So to the future of FP and candidates willing to serve as hard as Mayor C has, lets work together on solving problems instead of blaming others. Thanks Tony!

Robert C. Cox from Forest Park  

Posted: December 2nd, 2018 10:46 AM

Tracking the progress on Madison St since 1979 will show a different direction to the conversation here. My long standing criticism about FP governance is that there is a stubborn provincial mindset in matters of change. Nobody said it was going to be easy

Jerry Webster  

Posted: December 1st, 2018 3:35 PM

Bill, Gus has no respect for any one including his father, I thought you knew that.

Gus Calderone  

Posted: December 1st, 2018 2:06 PM

Hey, little Billy. Hows Westmont treating you?

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: December 1st, 2018 11:59 AM

So where is Karen "totally wrong," Gus Gus? When she says your dad "did a great job of finishing it"? The historic fact is that Lorraine Popelka was an ardent lobbyist with state officials for funding of the reconstruction. No one is saying the village board didn't have a hand in that years long project. Are you so small and petty as to be unable to give Popelka the credit due her? How Calderone of you.

Gus Calderone  

Posted: December 1st, 2018 10:35 AM

Karen you are completely wrong. Madison Street started while Calderone was commissioner, but it was HIS vision not hers.

Jerry Webster  

Posted: November 30th, 2018 11:25 PM

Gus, the Post, sorry about that

Karen Weinert Simons from Carterville  

Posted: November 30th, 2018 11:16 PM

The Madison Street revitalization started under Mayor Popelka. It was two-thirds finished when Mayor Calderone was elected. He did a great job of finishing it, but to be historically accurate, it was Mayor Popelka's vision and hard work that started it.

Gus Calderone  

Posted: November 30th, 2018 9:56 PM

Jerry you thought what was out of business ?

Jerry Webster  

Posted: November 30th, 2018 7:14 PM

I haven't received a in years, I thought it was already out of business..

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