Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- Five Park Forest residents have filed for three 6-year terms for Library Trustee seats. The Library serves Park Forest and Olympia fields. The spring consolidated election will be held April 4, 2017.
These candidates, like those running for the Village Board, run in Park Forest’s non-partisan system. This means candidates for office in the Village do not align with parties, nor are they permitted to form political slates. Likewise, candidates for office may not publicly endorse each other.
For those of you who have recently moved to Park Forest and are unfamiliar with our non-partisan form of government, please read on.
The five candidates, each running for one of three six-year terms, are:
- Lance L. Jefferson, 411 Lakewood Boulevard
- Sevena Merchant, 24 Thorn Creek Drive
- Beverly K. Helm, 336 Illinois Street
- Keith Supler, 239 Juniper Street
- Joseph Woods, 3165 Western Avenue
According to Sandi Black, Executive Assistant to the Village Manager, no one asked to see any petition packets. The time for filing objections to petitions has passed, according to Sandi Black. The last day to file objections was December 28, 2016.
eNews Park Forest will provide the candidates for office with questionnaires, and, as they respond, will publish these so people can learn about the candidates. This will be for the offices of Library Trustee and Village Trustee. However, it has become apparent in recent years that many people are not familiar with the non-partisan form of government in Park Forest. This often includes the candidates for office.
So we expound again on what non-partisan government means.
The non-partisan form of government has been a “tradition in Park Forest since 1949,” according to the Park Forest Non-Partisan Committee.
Why non-partisan elections?
From the Park Forest Non-Partisan Committee:
For candidates, this means:
- No party endorsement is needed to run
- Candidates can reach many voters at no cost
- Thus it’s easier to run for Village Office
For voters, this means:
- Candidates focus on local issues
- Candidates are free of pressure from special interest groups
- Opportunities exist to ask questions of all candidates
Why should the voter care?
Consider this second bullet point under “For the candidates…,” “Candidates can reach many voters at no cost.”
The non-partisan system applies to all who run for office in the Village of Park Forest: Village Board and Library Board.
How does the non-partisan committee help the candidates and the voters?
The Committee for Non-Partisan Local Government in Park Forest helps all candidates reach the voters. We sponsor forums where all candidates can speak and answer questions. We publish a Candidate’s Statements brochure with each candidate’s photo and message when possible.
The voter should care because this system, in place since 1949, guarantees that the major parties do not dictate who runs for office. While candidates may accept donations from major parties, they may not declare in these elections as members of any particular party.
Likewise, the voter should care because candidates may not pool resources, may not raise money in tandem, and may not circulate election literature bearing the names of two or more candidates.
In essence, every candidate stands before voters alone. Alone, she or he makes her or his case to the voters.
The voters, then, may select one, two, or three candidates on election day. *
Even though three seats are open, voters are not required to vote for three candidates. Voters may “bullet vote,” i.e. vote for only one candidate. Or, voters may vote for two or three candidates.
Why does the non-partisan committee work to uphold these principles?
- Every qualified citizen should be free to run for office without the approval or support of any organized group.
- Voters should have opportunities to know the candidates and understand the issues.
- Local issues are local. They should not be obscured by state or national issues or by the motives of distant powers.
- Candidates in a local election should be free of pressure from any special interest group. They should be obligated only to the citizens of their community.
Those of you who moved to Park Forest from Chicago or other towns may find this type of government very foreign. Indeed, those who moved to the Village from neighboring towns may find this strange, especially when other towns encourage their employees to work for favored candidates.
That does not happen in Park Forest.
The Village employees will not share election preferences.
If any do, please let us know immediately at eNews Park Forest. That person, or persons, should not work for the Village of Park Forest.
What does this mean for Park Forest?
Village employees are not political appointees.
The mayor himself cannot tell the Village Manager to hire anyone.
Jobs are not given away in Park Forest.
Jobs are not political in Park Forest.
If anyone, anyone, promises you anything else, he or she simply cannot deliver.
Under our form of government, our employees are not political appointees.
Ideally, Park Forest is a meritocracy.
People hold jobs in Park Forest because of their abilities.
Not because a trustee or mayor declared they should work, or created a position for them.
And, we pledge again, during this election cycle, eNews Park Forest will be investigating each and every report of a non-partisan violation.
We will be keeping a very, very close watch on this election.
* When they vote, allowing for early voting.
Gary Kopycinski is editor and publisher of eNews Park Forest. Follow him on Twitter at @GaryKopycinski and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/FrodoJRR, or email him at [email protected]. He served as a village trustee in Park Forest from 2003-2006, and then again from 2007-2015. He is not a candidate in the April 4, 2017, Consolidated Election.
eNews Park Forest, Inc. is an independent media company and is not affiliated with the Village of Park Forest in any way.