RYAN C. NERO
CANDIDATE FOR FOREST PARK COMMISSIONER
1. What motivates you to seek this office? What skills, experiences, and perspectives would you bring to the Commission, and why would those contributions be valuable to the Village of Forest Park?
I am at a point in my career where my education, 17 years of professional experience with infrastructure projects and improvements, provide me the experience, knowledge, enthusiasm and motivation that I believe will bring value to the Village of Forest Park. My leadership and communication skills enhance my ability to bring people together, to work towards common goals and execute well thought out ideas. I am open-minded and can motivate and influence people in a positive direction. I will make certain that my ideas and decisions keep the growth and prosperity of Forest Park as a priority. The people of Forest Park are asking for their voice to be heard, let me be the candidate that gives Forest Parkers that voice!
2. What are Forest Park’s greatest strengths?
The People of Forest Park are its greatest strength. When the community is united, the Village can thrive.
What are its greatest challenges?
Our greatest challenges are finding ways to seek out additional streams of sustainable revenue, while nurturing an environment of collaboration and unity. One Forest Park, united toward a common vision.
What is your vision for Forest Park?
My Vision – Striving to be a leader in community relationships, cultural growth, education excellence and financial security.
3. What does transparency in government mean to you? Give one example of an action you would take as Commissioner to reflecting your views on this topic. How would you evaluate the Village’s record on transparency?
Transparency is the only way to have a respected Village Council and informed residents. A Commissioner must hear the voices of the residents and be able to give explanations for the reasoning behind Village Council decisions. I will be a driving force behind marketing and advocating for the Village council. Some ideas to promote transparency would include;
Investigation new ways to record and stream the council meetings
Providing additionally clarity to council meeting agendas
Being open, honest and approachable to ensure concerns are heard and addressed
4. What steps will you take to enhance community engagement with the Village and the Village Commission? What is your view on how local elected officials should communicate with and respond to constituents?
There are always ways to improve resident engagement. Implementing all or some of these are just a few;
Adopt a formal social media policy and improve usage by departments
Create a robust “mobile friendly” website that promotes resident engagement
Host regularly scheduled coffees with the Village Council members located within the community
Improve participation on committees to promote engagement at levels
5. In what ways have you sought to better know and understand the experiences, concerns, and needs of residents outside your demographic group?
I am an active volunteer in the Village of Forest Park. I am a member of the Cultural Park Committee, and Chairman of the Traffic and Safety Commission. I have also spent afternoons supporting the Kiwanis by participating in the Peanut Day fundraisers. Most recently, I have spent weekends canvassing the neighborhood meeting new people and listening to the concerns of the residents, I have hosted and participated in meet and greets to expand my network of constituents, I have also been invited to speak with residents about my campaign at Neighborhood coffees. All of these have been instrumental in helping me meet, listen and understand the needs and concerns of the village residents.
6. What do you believe is the biggest challenge to the Village's financial situation?
Researching and implementing new opportunities for new revenue and cost savings.
What specific steps would you take as Commissioner with regard to the Village’s budget shortfall?
The recent Village financial audit verified what some of us already knew. The village is facing a 1.6-million-dollar deficit. The Village board has a duty to be actively pursuing new sustainable steams of revenue, while at the same time improving the current ones we have. Economic Development is a priority of mine that must be given some new energy to investigate and secure new business opportunities in the Village. Additionally, we must look at the Altenheim Property and make forward progress on developing that parcel of land in some capacity. Weather that be green space, a music venue, or sold off to a developer action needs to be taken because in its current state, it is a wasted resource. Finally, a detailed examination of all fees and fines to determine where opportunities for improvement exist while at the same time investigating new technologies that could result in improved efficiencies, so we can begin to do more with less.
7. What should the Village Commission's role be with respect to economic development and attracting new business to Forest Park?
? Economic growth and development begin with making sure the village is business friendly. By streamlining processes & improving service levels, the village can begin to consistently attract investments. Aside from that, we must make sure our fees are competitive and that the economic development department has the tools in place to foster growth (incentives, out-reach / marketing programs, job training etc.) Additionally, the Village must continue its efforts in working with the Chamber of Commerce and participate at all levels.
8. The Altenheim property and future development alternatives are topics of much discussion in Forest Park. What should the next step in this process be?
As a member of the Cultural Park Committee, I have firsthand knowledge on the timeline and details of the various plans presented to the Village Council. Last year the Cultural Park Committee presented several options for the village council to consider regarding the Altenheim property. The next step is for the Village to provide feedback on the recommendations. Once feedback has been received a path forward can be determined. The village council recently made a formal recommendation to host a town hall meeting to obtain feedback and solicit opinions on this very issue. I support that idea. The needs of the community must be heard and understood. Additionally, the needs of the Village and the financial burden the property places on the budget must also be considered.
9. The debate over video gambling dominated the recent midterm election in the Village, and while the issue has been resolved through binding referendum, there are still significant rifts dividing Forest Park. Do you think those rifts can be healed? If so, how? If not, why not?
People will disagree on issues, in most cases this is healthy and productive. It allows us the ability to debate different opinions. The way we communicate with one another is changing. Social media is a powerful tool that has given everyone a voice. However, when used as a vehicle for bullying & name calling it can be very destructive and hurtful. The growth and prosperity of Forest Park should be a priority for all the residents. The debate and ultimate decision regarding video gaming certainly divided the town. Now that the decision has been made, it is time for us to move forward together. I would like to be the driving force behind unifying the community again. It is ok to disagree on issues, if the debates are professional, factual and put Forest Park first. This is critical to our success, especially when important issues are presented to the village council for review and consideration. If everyone tried to walk in each other’s shoes, we could then find some common ground. Buying local whenever possible and patronizing those businesses that have lost revenue would be a great start. With a united front, Forest Park can continue to grow and prosper as the great little Village we all know and love.
10. Do you believe Village Commissioners have a role to play in relation to District 91 and District 209? Why or why not?
Forest Park’s role as it pertains to Proviso Township District 209 high school is support, guidance, oversight, and involvement. When Proviso East High School grows, Forest Park Grows. I will explore opportunities to share resources. Our property values increase, athletic programs improve, and the overall ability to invest in the youth of this community will improve. Ultimately more people will want to live, play, invest, and raise their families in Forest Park as a result. Essentially, Forest Park must be an active partner in both District 209 and District 91.
11. What do you see as the best role for Forest Park’s Diversity Commission? What challenges do you anticipate with regard to equity and inclusion in the Village, and how will you approach them?
Forest Park has always been a community of people with varying backgrounds and social & economic status. Consequently, this is what makes our Village strong and we need to celebrate this. The Diversity Task Force should be the Village resource on diversity issues. The Diversity Commission, which meets monthly, is charged with discussing, documenting and delivering their findings & recommendations to the Village council so necessary action can be taken. The Village Council must support their efforts to enrich the social and intellectual life of all residents through educational and social programs. Through regular participation in Village Council meetings we can improve awareness and promote the understanding and acceptance of all people in our great Village.
12. What impact can a municipality such as Forest Park have on climate change, and how will you prioritize that work among other issues? Do you think Forest Park should implement a Climate Action Plan, and if so, what specific elements should it include?
There are many things we can do to be a leader in reducing the harmful effects we have on climate change and the environment. A Climate Action Plan is certainly a good may to approach his concern. Some items I would support as part of this plan would include but not limited to the following;
We must research and invest in renewable energies and sustainable construction methods for our infrastructure. The global push for cleaner, healthier energy is on. With costs dropping every day, renewable energy is the best choice for the environment and the economy.
We must support green methods of transportation such as public transportation, bike riding and car share programs.
We must be smart when it comes to energy usage. Change to energy-efficient light bulbs, install programmable thermostats, look for the energy star label when buying new appliances.
We can promote smarter eating habits by eating “meat-free” meals, buying organic and local whenever possible, and reducing food waste.
We can implement a Farmer’s Market where locally grown fruits and vegetables can be bought and sold local reducing our carbon footprint.
13. The Forest Park Review recently described the Commissioner form of government as “fully obsolete for an urban suburb of our size.” Do you agree? If so, what steps would you take to improve the governing structures of Forest Park?
I understand completely the concerns raised about the commission form of government and the problems it can sometimes face. Ultimately it would require a ballot initiative to change. Many people do not realize that in 2000 the Village Council created the Village Administrator position essentially creating the Council manager form of Government. My review of the current code indicates very clearly that the Administrator is responsible for every asset of the day to day activities that occur within the Village. I am sure there may be some shortcomings to this unique model and I will have to review exactly how it works within Forest Park prior to coming to any informed position.
14. Please list the three largest donors to your campaign by dollar amount contributed.
Lynn Rogers $500.00
Marion Woods $500.00
Donlan, Goldman & Roth P.C. $500.00
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[The above answers were supplied on 2/20/19. It may be possible to find more current financial information at the Illinois Sunshine website. Illinois Sunshine is also a useful resource for identifying past contributions by individuals to political candidates and committees in Illinois.]
Nero For Forest Park Commissioner (candidate Facebook page)
Balance fiscal responsibility with sound judgment (Forest Park Review 3/19/9)
Survey Responses: Ryan Nero (Forest Park Review 3/1/19)
Nero adds name to commissioner race (Forest Park Review 12/18/18)
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Commission candidates debate unity, development (Forest Park Review 2/26/19)
No candidates' petitions challenged (Forest Park Review 1/1/19)
A Brief Who's Who in the Commissioner, Mayoral Races (Forest Park Review 12/18/18)