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The 2019 Park Forest Mayoral Candidates – In Their Own Words

Mae Brandon, JeRome Brown, Jonathan Vanderbilt, mayoral candidates
Mae Brandon, JeRome Brown, and Jonathan Vanderbilt (pictured with his family) are all contenders for mayor of Park Forest in the April 2, 2019 Consolidated Election. (Photos: Park Forest Committee for Non-Partisan Local Government)
Correction: The election forum is Sunday, March 3, 2019, at 1:00 p.m. The original date was incorrect. We regret the error.

Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- There are three candidates on the ballot for mayor in Park Forest this year. The election is slated for April 2, with early voting slated to begin soon. A month out from the Election Day, we offer statements from the candidates in their own words, statements provided to the Park Forest Non-Partisan Committee. The next public forum is scheduled for Sunday, March 3, 2019, in Park Forest Village Hall. Library Trustee candidates will have first go for 15 minutes, followed by Village Trustee candidates for 45 minutes. Mayoral candidates will follow with a scheduled discussion time of 1 hour.

Kick-off is at 1:00 p.m.

The final forum for mayoral candidates, trustee candidates, and library trustee candidates is scheduled for Sunday, March 17, 2019, in Park Forest Village Hall. That forum is sponsored by the Co-operatives of Park Forest.

Statements from the three mayoral candidates follow in the order they appear in the handout prepared by the Park Forest Non-Partisan Committee. The statements have not been edited.

Mae Brandon

Mae Brandon, mayoral candidates
Mae Brandon. (Photo: Park Forest Committee for Non-Partisan Local Government)

Experience Matters. I have served as your Village Trustee for the past 15 years, and hold the posi- tion of Mayor Pro Tem. As Mayor Pro Tem, I pre- side over Village Board meetings and fill in for the Mayor in his absence. I know the job, because I have done the job.

As Village Trustee, I have worked alongside fellow board members to develop policies to enhance our community. My role as Trustee Liaison  to various Village volunteer boards and commissions has provided me the opportunity to interact with citizens who are concerned about issues related to our youth, seniors, veterans, environment, improved human relations as well as those who focus to assure that our Village engages in careful and sensible planning.

Since moving to Park Forest in 1966, my husband and I have raised our children and been involved in our community. We have been active volunteers in school projects, civic organizations and church relations.  As  an occupational therapist, I have been active in my professional organizations. I have been selected to serve in various leadership roles, locally, statewide and nationally.

As advocate for Park Forest, I constantly seek ideas and programs which may benefit our Village. These efforts resulted in the upgrade of our electrical infrastructure, the development of our Crime Free Housing Ordinance and Neighbor Meeting program.

I am committed to an aggressive agenda of:

  • Continuing to obtain grants and other outside funding;
  • Developing strategies to recruit new businesses and development; Addressing housing concerns and means to improve our neighbor
  • hoods;
  • Assuring that our Village continues to be a safe and beautiful place for our families;
  • Working with regional organizations to fight disinvestment in our community, as well as the Southland.

As your Mayor, I will hit the ground running to move Park Forest forward.

JeRome Brown

JeRome Brown, mayoral candidates
JeRome Brown. (Photo: Park Forest Committee for Non-Partisan Local Government)

Park Forest Grace Church

Marital Status: Married

Children: 1

Occupation: Job Developer/Speaker/Life Coach

JeRome has been a powerful community servant for more than 2 decades.

  • PF Village Trustee
  • PF Kiwanis member/Chairman for Key Club
  • PF Environment Commission
  • PF Parks & Recreation Advisory Board
  • PF Toastmaster President
  • PF Rotary Club member/Program Director
  • PF Basketball Coach
  • “Bears On Court” Player/raised money for the Firefighter Association of America
  • “Chicago Caps” Community Liaison
  • Speaker/Trainer community job fair

JeRome is a former EPS for CAPs, non for profit employment agency that provides employment training/job placement services. CAPs has proven suc- cessful techniques in working with prospective employees to address the workforce needs of business through strategic hiring. One of CAPs areas of expertise is helping employers access indirect government assisted programs to maximize their payroll budget.

JeRome’s influential career includes management roles with several fortunate [sic] 500 companies. Citibank, United Insurance and Smith/Barney. His duties included sales, insurance, financial planning, training and development. Je- Rome’s aspiration is to bridge his life, educational and career expertise to the Village of Park Forest. Assisting in economic development, infrastructure, education and safety. Furthermore, he believes in motivating diverse communities to grow and produce new resources.

JeRome recently established and is CEO of “LOTS, Inc.” LOTS does many things including mentoring ages 5-25 with life lessons, group sessions, pro- fessional occupational speakers and job placement. Basketball is a tool used for development, discipline, leadership, team work and creative thinking.


  • Alderman Carrie Austin – Supporting the Community Award
  • Mayor Richard Daley – Ideas & Commitment to the Community
  • Cook County Board President John Stroger – Job/Community Resource Fair
  • Chicago Public School – Motivational & Key Note Speaker Gradation Speaker
  • Lamont Brown – Certificate of Appreciation “Pursing the Dream with the Browns” at Prairie State

JeRome’s goal, foster human understanding and contribute to the betterment of mankind.

Jonathan Vanderbilt

Jonathan Vanderbilt and family, mayoral candidates
Jonathan Vanderbilt and his family. (Photo: Park Forest Committee for Non-Partisan Local Government)

Jonathan Vanderbilt is a fourth generation Park Forest resident, he attended Huth and Rich East; his wife attended Talala Elementary, Crete-Monee Middle and High School. They have both lived in Bloom, Monee and Rich Township, their sons are fifth generation Park Foresters. Jonathan Graduated [sic] from Millikin University with a Bachelor in History, minoring in Political Science while continuing for his Masters in Career and Technical Education at Purdue.

Jonathan has worked on the Mayor’s Citizen Advisory Committee, Recreation and Parks Commission, Environmental Committee, Com- munity Garden Commission; where he was able  to  start one of the  first community gardens on Algonquin Street working with  neighbors and youth, Kiwanis Club Member, Nonpartisan Committee Board Mem- ber, Area B Board Member, South Suburban Sustainable Living Board Member, Rich East Booster Club Board Member. Furthermore, he has served at his church, Sauk Trail Baptist Temple, in various roles from Deacon, Awana Leader, Director of JV, Bus Ministry and Youth Group.

In his first year as a Trustee he has become the Chief Marketing Officer for Park Forest. He was able to get the Village Board to agree to start an Education Commission which was instrumental in saving Talala Elemen- tary. Jonathan has a passion to see our town’s youth succeed and as Mayor would create a Summer Employment Program. Depopulation in the Village has become a major contribution to many of the village’s problems including high property taxes and increasing water bills. When elected Mayor I will work to solve these problems by implementing a Neighborhood Redevelopment Initiative Incentivizing commercial and residential developers, Organize a volunteer code enforcement program, Sell excess village water to offset rising infrastructure costs, along with other creative solutions to revitalize Park Forest and share my passion for our community together.

Please visit Jonathan Vanderbilt for Mayor of Park Forest on Facebook.

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