Ostenburg Confronts Political Intimidation Rumors

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Park Forest Village Hall. (Photo: Wendy Heise)

This story includes audio from Monday’s Rules Meeting of the Board of Trustees 

Park Forest, IL—(ENEWSPF)— Mayor John Ostenburg attempted to put a stop to rumors regarding alleged intimidating treatment some individuals claimed they received after recent political campaigns. Commenting that he had received phone calls, Ostenburg addressed claims that were made after the last municipal election in Park Forest, as well as others that surfaced after the February 5 Illinois Primary.  Ostenburg made his remarks at Monday’s Rules Meeting.

“We have always embraced political discussion in a very enthusiastic way,” Ostenburg began, “and it’s not uncommon in our community that people hold different political views, and they express them, and they do it in a vigorous fashion in many cases. We have a lot of energetic campaigns and political discussions.

“However, there are things sometimes that I find disconcerting. The telephone calls that I’ve received fall into that category.” He said he received a call that claimed that after last year’s municipal election, individuals who voted a particular way were subjected to an “unfair treatment” by Village officials and received tickets because of who they may have supported.

“I know that that is not the case, and I’m very upset that that story is circulating in our community because it’s not the kind of thing that we ever would tolerate.”

Ostenburg then referenced the most recent primary election, “Comments have been made that individuals who have been supposedly told, ‘You better watch your step. We’re watching you. Tickets will be issued if you violate any infraction of municipal law,’ and things of that sort.”

He asserted that these claims were unfounded, "We do not do that in the Village of Park Forest, and as long as I’m Mayor of this town, if I ever find any circumstance where it is done, I’m sure the manager, I wouldn’t even need to ask him to take care of it. I know what his high ethical standards are. But it’s upsetting to me that some of our citizens would even think that that’s the way we operate when our tradition has been so rich in embracing democratic discussion in a free and open atmosphere where viewpoints are tolerated.”

“The notion that anyone would feel that they would ever be threatened as a result of a candidate that they supported, or a position that they advocated, is one that I find very disconcerting,” he said.

“We would never allow that anyone would ever be subjected to any ill treatment as a result of who they might support in a political campaign.”

Ostenburg’s comments may be heard in their entirety here: {mgmediabot2}path=audio/ostenburg-on-dissent-030408.mp3|popup=Click to play|width=300|height=200{/mgmediabot2}.

The author is a member of the Park Forest Board of Trustees.