Mayoral Endorsement: Chris Harris

Opinion

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Sixteen years ago, a young man ran for mayor of Forest Park after serving a term on the village council. His name was Tony Calderone. And his case to voters was that the sitting mayor, Lorraine Popelka, had served too long, that the town had gone stagnant, that she made excuses rather than bold plans for the future of Forest Park.

He was right. Voters agreed and turned out a woman who loved her community, had its best interests at heart but who, as a political leader, was stuck in time.

In 2015, Chris Harris is in a parallel situation. He has served a term as a village commissioner. And he is making the case that Mayor Anthony Calderone has become stagnant, an explainer of why things can't happen rather than an instigator of making things happen.

We agree with Chris Harris. Tony Calderone has served ably, even with distinction, and should be remembered as the mayor who reignited Forest Park. But it is time for voters to turn to the future and Chris Harris is the best hope for this village's future.

Analogies are seldom perfect and our aligning of Popelka and Calderone is not perfect. Here's why. Mayor Popelka was flummoxed by the decay taking hold in Forest Park. She didn't understand why the Madison Street that she knew as a main street of hometown merchants had devolved into ratty antique stores and rattier bars. She didn't see Forest Park's potential in the grander scheme of the metro area, that an old inner-ring suburb could become a destination for young homebuyers and diners. Calderone did. And with hard work, new ideas and some good fortune, he carried Forest Park into new times.

Now it is Calderone who is stuck — but in a different though equally troubling way. He takes rightful pride in initiatives such as the Madison Street collaboration with neighboring River Forest. The planned TIF for Roosevelt Road is necessary, though a long-term opportunity for that street. 

However there is no explaining his complete inaction in making a plan for the village-owned Altenheim after 14 years. There is no excusing the endless, mindless, insulting explanations about why Forest Park is simply unable to address severe flooding issues.  

Mayor Calderone's blind spot is in his lack of faith in the ideas and energy of the people of Forest Park. He wants to maintain his hold on power so he surrounds himself mainly with weak men — see Commissioners Hosty and Mannix.  

He wants to control the future of the Altenheim and so he suggests, in an endorsement interview with this paper, that a blue-ribbon committee on the subject can't work because Forest Park lacks qualified, willing people to help make a plan. 

He and his minions suggest that Forest Park citizens cannot understand the complexity of their excuses on flooding. He announces a diversity committee not to actually discuss and reflect on the white minority status of the community, not to celebrate the town's successes in diversity but to talk about teenage boys with droopy drawers. 

He has failed to embrace fully the Proviso Together high school board slate which has brought positive energy to the debilitating high school issue for the first time in decades.

Last election, it was time for Mayor Calderone to step graciously back. Now it is time for voters to retire him.

In Chris Harris we have a man, a bit enigmatic, we'd agree, but who understands the fundamental nature of management and governance today. Sharing. Sharing information. Sharing planning. Sharing decision-making. Bringing more people into the tent by both direct invitation and by creating a culture that says all are welcome, all are needed.

His effort to involve citizens in an Altenheim town hall in 2012 was a bright light in the past term. He has pushed the village on flooding solutions. He has embraced the energy of the Proviso Together slate which works toward progress on the most debilitating issue holding Forest Park back from true community-building.

Just as we were 16 years ago in enthusiastically endorsing the candidacy of young Tony Calderone, today we offer our full endorsement to Chris Harris for mayor of Forest Park.

Reader Comments

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Beth Scheible from forest park   

Posted: March 25th, 2015 9:49 AM

Cathleen, Jerry, David and Bill why don't all of you meet up somewhere and do your trash talk there. I think this forum would be best used for comments about the actual articles in the paper. Not a personal forum for all of you to trash each other EVERY WEEK. It getting a little much. As far as the actual article I'm glad that the FPR is endorsing Chris Harris. I am adding Dan Novak to my ticket. I agree that we need new blood and less yes men.

Barbara J Plona from Forest Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 24th, 2015 9:39 PM

Thoughtful, well reasoned endorsement

Cathleen Kushnick from Chicago, Illinois  

Posted: March 24th, 2015 9:28 PM

I am not the least bit afraid of you thugs. Believe me, and you can check me on this, anyone who is not afraid of Gloria and Steve is not afraid of anything on this earth. So pile on, Boys.

Bill Dwyer from Forest Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 24th, 2015 9:08 PM

Compassion has it's limits, Daniel, wouldn't you say?

Cathleen Kushnick from Chicago, Illinois  

Posted: March 24th, 2015 8:56 PM

Daniel: I am currently at 417 Wisconsin Avenue my phone number is 310 922 1467. SEND THE POLICE OVER HERE RIGHT NOW YOU PIG. CALL THEM.

Daniel Jones from Forest Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 24th, 2015 8:54 PM

Please stop chiding this woman. She is clearly challenged. What she really needs is a well-being visit from the police. She is clearly crying out for help with these effusive, senseless rants. She needs help not encouragement from you all.

Jerry Webster  

Posted: March 24th, 2015 8:42 PM

Gee, is this the real you or the ghost writer, you are almost lucid. Is breedding that inportent, well my parents were married, were yours? I am as educated as the mayor if that helps you any and I am literate. I hate to break this to you but a mayor is not a guest of honor at a forum and his speaking first was luck of the draw if you had bothered listening. I guess that wouldn't matter as you hear ONLY what you want to hear and read only what you what to read. It really is to bad people like you are allowed out because you shouldn't be, you are dangerous.

Cathleen Kushnick from Chicago, Illinois  

Posted: March 24th, 2015 8:01 PM

Jeery, you are obviously not well bred or well educated and only semi-literate so perhaps you were not aware of this. But, no, actually, I am not kidding. Anywhere the mayor of any town goes they are the guest of honor. Unless there is an official of higher status from outside the village present. I'm sure if your hero the enigmatic and laughable Chris Harris gets elected as mayor you will learn to be more respectful. A lot of goodies are going to be handed out to whoever is good at hem kissing and waiting in line at the mayor's door for audience. If you don't change your tune about the significance of the mayor you may not be "favored" by the new regime. Harris isn't going to give *everyone* everything they want. Only some people, Jerry. Look lively if you want to get in on it.

Jerry Webster  

Posted: March 24th, 2015 7:58 PM

David, Cathleen getting tired and your the comic relief?

David Webb  

Posted: March 24th, 2015 7:43 PM

What's the win/loss track record for the FPR endorsing candidates? How many have won..? I hear crickets ;)

Jerry Webster  

Posted: March 24th, 2015 7:28 PM

Guest of Honor, you are kidding right, this was a forum for cadidates not a dinner. Well, I hope you are right and all those people were Harris supporters as we do need a chance in Mayors. But the true is oh brain dead one I did in fact see a number of Calderone buttons on peoples hats. As for kids, not sure where that came from, I sure would not use you as an example accept as how NOT to behave, lying, rudeness and the inability to remain lucid are not acceptable behavior. I hear they have rooms available at Madden, maybe they can help you.

Sharon Daly from Forest Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 24th, 2015 6:12 PM

For the record, neither Mayor Tony Calderone nor Commish Chris Harris have ever been members of Vox60130.

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