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Shnay: Park Forest works to keep elections nonpartisan

Updated: May 8, 2013 6:11AM



When the late Henry Dietch was mayor of Park Forest during the first decade of the village’s existence, he understood that good government ends when politics begins.

Dietch was fond of saying neither Democrats nor Republicans have a “right” way to sweep the streets or pick up garbage. So it became a point of civic pride that local elections in Park Forest have always been on a nonpartisan basis.

Each candidate runs their campaign, and because there are no wards or districts in the village, each candidate is judged by all the voters.

Political parties, even those created for one election, do not exist. Candidates are not supposed to cooperate with each other.

There is even a Park Forest Committee for Non-Partisan Local Government that makes each candidate sign a pledge that they actually understand what the phrase “nonpartisan” means.

We live in different times and not in an ideal world. Although we believe candidates should be elected on merit alone, we wonder.

JeRome Brown, one of the 10 candidates running for three seats on the village board, may have nudged a couple of his toes over the “nonpartisan” line when he publicly endorsed two other trustee candidates on his Facebook page.

That kind of support comes close to being considered a slate — a group of candidates who get together and run on a common platform or have similar policies.

It all depends whether Brown was doing this out of the goodness of his heart or whether he was perhaps offended when a website, operated by a current trustee, endorsed in a signed editorial by the site’s editor, three other candidates for the board.

To be honest, in other years we understand that some candidates worked to get each other elected. But that was behind closed doors, with a tacit agreement to work together but in separate ways. Nothing was made public.

Between Tweedledum and Tweedledee, we take no sides. We endorse no candidate nor ever will. The only thing we support is your vote on Tuesday.

Hello! Hello? What?

The telephone call came from a research company working for the Republican candidate in the 2nd Congressional District.

Before asking me to cast a protest vote for their man (who was never named) as well as against the alleged disarmament of the citizenry, outside campaign money and a corrupt administration in Chicago, the voice at the other end of the line wanted to know if I was going to vote in the election “on April 6.”

“No, no,” I corrected. “The election is on April 9.”

The programmed female voice could not understand my answer and asked again if I was going to vote on April 6.

“Please push 1 yes, 2 no, or 3 not sure,” the voice intoned.

It was another triumph of automation over the human spirit. I pushed a button, and after two more button taps Ms. RoboCall thanked me for my time and the call ended.

This one-sided conversation was repeated to a friend who sometimes sees conspiracy theories lurking under everyone’s bed.

“This may be another case of giving voters wrong information so they won’t vote,” he surmised.

I thought not. I suggested it could just be plain stupidity, a common human failing existing in all political parties.

The friend thought not. But I suppose we would all be paranoid if we really knew who was out to get us.



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