Two of the four incumbent commissioners on the Forest Park Village Council have now announced plans to seek re-election. Joe Byrnes and Dan Novak will stand as independents in the April 2019 election.
We welcome their decision and we never underestimate the value of some level of continuity on an elected board. There is always a steep learning curve and having been through budget cycles, union negotiations and personnel decisions has value.
That said, we are struck by comments each has made in stepping up for re-election. In an interview last week in the Review, Byrnes said he looked forward to another term with different leadership and a different mix so that the council can move beyond what he called its current stagnation. He has ideas he wants to move forward that didn't occur in the first term. Novak, in a letter to the editor today, says, "Our town … is at a crossroad" and the next council will need to be "fiscally innovative and take an aggressive approach to municipal business."
We agree with both gentlemen. But in the campaign ahead, both will need to explain why they were so ineffective these past four years in raising issues, in engaging in more open discussion of complex issues, in not being sleepy-headed in the perpetually short 30-minute board meetings.
Yes, Forest Park needs some continuity. More than that, though, it needs some gumption — to take on the chronic financial challenges the village government faces, to actively repair the divide, which these two had a hand in creating, over video gaming and the right to vote.
We look forward to hearing more from both candidates.
Is it possible to consider the recent recognition that the Let Forest Park Vote group earned without mentioning video gaming? We'd like to try because, honestly, let's look forward.
So our congratulations to these community activists for the Citizen Initiative Award recognition bestowed on the group by the Citizens Advocacy Center. This award does not come out of the blue. The CAC has been advising, cajoling and supporting the effort of Let Forest Park Vote over several years now. "Their perseverance in getting the video gaming issue on the ballot was just so incredible. It took so much organization and dedication," said a CAC leader.
We agree. And all the balderdash that was heaved up against this grassroots group makes their final win last month the more remarkable.
That said, local government is not designed to be operated by endless referendums. The Review is not a fan of this method of governing. We have elections for a good reason. Vote good people in after a robust campaign and the vetting that goes with it. Vote them out in the next election if they have not performed.
Governing is hard. Maybe especially in small towns. We have great respect for the people who put themselves forward to run for office. We are embarking now on what looks to be a humdinger of a local election for the village council and both our school boards. Let's make this democratic process all that it can be.