This piece was submitted by Joseph A. Woods
Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- Park Forest Trustee Joseph A. Woods has announced that he will be a candidate for Mayor in the April municipal election.
“Our Village is at a crossroads,” he said. “What we decide in the next four years will be critical to the future of Park Forest.” He said volunteers are currently circulating his nominating petitions.
“I’m not running against anyone. I’m running for ‘the urgency of now,’” said Woods, a Village Trustee since 2019. “I’m running to preserve the cultural traditions of our community, but also to be effectively visionary about where we want Park Forest to be in the years ahead.”
Woods laid out a five-point program on which his campaign will be based: (1) increased community involvement, (2) business development focused on the needs of the local community, (3) matters relating to schools and youth, (4) crime prevention, and (5) more focus on the needs of families.
As it relates to economic revitalization, Trustee Woods zeroed in on the needs of African-American and Latino communities in the south suburbs, pointing out how many are “food deserts.”
“Over the years the efforts of our community to attract a major grocery store have been disastrous,” he said. “Why do we continue to move in that direction?” He suggested as an alternative finding new ways to address the needs of local shoppers, including year-round pop-up efforts and closer work with convenience stores to provide more food staples.
Woods also stated that his economic revitalization efforts will focus more on advancing local businesses, including minority contractors. “Advancing our local businesses means the possibility for creating more local jobs while also improving our tax base,” he said.
According to Trustee Woods, the closing of Rich East High School has placed a tremendous burden on the youth of Park Forest. “I’m not delusional,” he said. “I recognize that the possibilities for re-opening Rich East are virtually non-existent. But to me that means we must be aggressive in developing new programs and approaches to service the needs of our young people. We’ve lost the Park Forest-based high school athletics and extra-curricular activities that used to provide after-school outlets for our teenagers. We must fill that gap, for their good and for the good of the community.” Trustee Woods said a major goal will be to create more programs to address crime in the community. “Our police force is well respected, and the work the officers do is renowned in our region,” but, he continued, “the elected officials need to provide the support needed to engage in more measures that prevent crimes rather than just address them after they have occurred.” According to Trustee Woods, “Enforcement is important, but prevention is ideal.”
A goal that relates to several needs of the community will be to create a Parents Advisory Council that will codify how parental input is provided to the Village, Woods explained.
“Park Forest is a family-oriented community,” he said. “It is my intention to lead the community toward more benefits for families. I will be reaching out to them and seeking their guidance and advice on the best ways to deal with their issues.
“But creating such a Council in and of itself is not enough,” he continued. “Most importantly, we must listen to what is being said to us. More than anything else, what citizens say to me is that they don’t feel as though anybody is listening. I intend to change that.” Woods said he hopes for their input on how matters such as schools, public safety, neighborhood issues, and taxes, impact families.
“In the council-manager form of government we have in Park Forest, it’s the responsibility of the Mayor and Trustees to be visionary, to create the pathway to improvement that then is carried out by the professional staff. As Mayor, I intend to involve both the Trustees and the community in important decisions. This will not be a one-person show.”
Trustee Woods’ full statement is available on Facebook at Citizens To Elect Joseph A. Woods.
Election Day is April 4.
This piece was submitted by Trustee Joseph A. Woods.