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Shnay: Candidates’ forum less than thrilling

Updated: March 25, 2013 6:14AM



Let’s set the record straight one more time.

Journalists are often accused of using quotes out of context and stirring up controversy where none exists in an effort to sensationalize a story. We wish it were that easy.

Last Sunday, at the first of four candidate forums held by the Committee for Non-Partisan Local Government, I along with about 60 others in the village hall board room listened to nine of the 10 candidates for the Park Forest Village Board discuss their qualifications for office, their plans if elected and what they see as some of the issues facing the community.

Then we heard from five of the seven people running for the village library board talk about their vision if elected.

In essence, it sounded like a well-rehearsed chorus.

The candidates for village trustee touched on a rising crime rate, the need for new businesses and the number of foreclosed or abandoned homes as issues of prime importance for Park Forest. It was gratifying to see that a question I posed in a recent column about their attendance at village board meetings was asked.

Some candidates said they did not attend, or seldom attend, board meetings, but to a person they admitted to watching the sessions online or on the village cable TV channel.

Those running for library trustee all admitted to reading books — from the Bible to Ayn Rand — and all said they saw no problem with the job the library board was doing. All they wanted to do was to help it move along, they said.

Village trustee candidate Darryl Jordan was a no-show. He did not even give the committee his biography for the program. Library board applicants Sandra Flowers and Kristal Hudson were represented only by their biographies.

Perhaps it was the time limit — one or two minutes to respond to eight questions submitted in writing by the audience — that was a factor in what was said. Or perhaps it was because no time was allowed for rebuttal or that this was the initial forum and candidates did not want to tip their hand too soon.

Sad to day from a scribe’s point of view, there were no wrangles, no falling-outs, no disputes, no quarrels and little, if any, disagreement among the candidates. No one screamed, no argument was refuted, no row was forthcoming and no sensational quotes to be noted.

Has civil discourse come to Park Forest? We shall see.

Them that has, gets

About the only unusual note sounded during the forum was the presence of 2nd Congressional District candidate Charles Rayburn, who distributed his campaign literature outside the board room. Rayburn claimed that all requests for federal dollars by Park Forest will have to go through his office after he is elected. We shall see.

When we last dipped our oars into the turbulent waters of the 2nd District’s special election, we thought that, as in most cases, the person with the most money to spend would probably get the most votes.

That was before Toi Hutchinson suddenly dropped out and before folks knew that a super PAC from New York was spending heavily on the campaign against Debbie Halvorson and to boost the chances of Robin Kelly.

We vote in the special primary election on Tuesday. And again, we shall see.

Finally, everyone is invited to a free program on African-American genealogy at 2:30 p.m. today at the village hall.

The program is sponsored by the Park Forest Historical Society, a worthy organization of which I act as secretary.

The society held a similar program a couple of years ago to the appreciation of the large crowd in attendance.



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