These are the statements of the Candidates for Village Mayor (Village President) as submitted to the Park Forest Non-Partisan Committee, Jonathan Vanderbilt and Joseph Woods. They appear here in alphabetical order as prepared by the candidates:

Jonathan Vanderbilt

Johathan Vanderbilt
Johathan Vanderbilt (PHOTO SUPPLIED)

Mayor Jonathan Vanderbilt is a fourth generation Park Forester who graduated from Huth and Rich East High School, currently employed as a Local 1185 Union Carpenter. His wife Kathleen, graduated from Talala, Crete-Monee Middle and High School, together raising their three boys who are fifth generation Park Foresters.
Jonathan Vanderbilt has received numerous awards during his tenure as Mayor.

  • 2019, he received the Early Walker Philanthropist Service Award for Volunteerism,
  • 2020 was selected the “Mayor of the Year” by the Southland Black Chamber of Commerce and Industry as the award aims to recognize the Mayors in the region who have shown a commitment to enhancing their respective communities they went on by stating that “2020 was an incredible challenging year for business and individuals alike. President Vanderbilt’s efforts to better Park Forest during these unprecedented times have not gone unnoticed. Throughout numerous government shut downs and stay at home orders, President Vanderbilt has shown great care for his residents through hosting food giveaways, PPE dispersion events, diaper and supply drives and gas giveaways.”
  • 2021 was chosen to receive the Celebration of Service Award by the Boy Scouts of America Calumet District.

As Mayor, Jonathan has worked with Village staff and the Board of Trustees to address issues such as high property taxes and increased water bills due in large part, to depopulation. Jonathan worked alongside fellow board members and staff to solve these problems by building a solar field to offset water plant energy usage, implemented a Neighborhood Redevelopment Initiative through the South Suburban Trades Initiative, reintroduced the Beautification Awards Committee, organized and Chaired the 2020 Census Committee and developed with heavy resident input the Five year strategic plan, increased funding for infrastructure all while having a 0% tax increase in three of the past five years!

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Joseph Woods

Joe Woods

My journey of service to the Village of Park Forest has been an organic process—from Poet Laureate to Library Board Trustee, to Village Trustee in 2019. I am honored to have worked alongside such committed and civic-minded leaders.

A career in public service has prepared me to serve as Mayor. As Village Trustee, I chaired the 2020 Census Committee and serve as Trustee Liaison to the Economic Development Advisory Group and the Police and Fire Advisory Group. As Mayor, I will work to establish a sustainable budget, protect our environment, promote ethical government, and ensure that Park Forest remains a vibrant, livable community for our residents. I believe it is imperative though that we realize a new vision.

I am a product of Quigley North High School, Loyola University of Chicago, Roosevelt University, the Park Forest Civic Leadership Academy—and my mother, Doris, who “knitted my pattern of thought with grandma’s hands.”

I served three administrations for the Office of the Illinois Attorney General, advocating for the rights of consumers, senior citizens, persons with disabilities, veterans, and victims of crime, and was subsequently elected President of Local 4408 American Federation of Teachers for the Attorney General Northern District.

Our Village is at a crossroads. What we decide in the next four years will be critical to the future of Park Forest. I’m not running AGAINST … I’m running FOR “the urgency of now!” I’m running for Mayor. It’s not about ME, it’s about WE!

These past years we have fought to live while in the midst of anxiety when faced with our own existence, yet somehow, we survive. Join us in the campaign to L.I.V.E. for Leadership―Integrity―Vision―Equity. A vote for WE is to live deliberately … in Park Forest.