Make that “four term Village President.” River Forest voters returned Village President Frank Paris to office Tuesday with 57.5 percent of the vote over challenger Dale Rider.
“It was much closer than I expected,” said Paris, who immediately added that he’s delighted to be reelected and is looking forward to working with a slightly reconstituted board that includes supporters Patrick O’Brien and Nancy Dillon, and independent Russell Nummer, the village’s former fire chief, who won his first elected office by 31 votes.
Paris said he intends to continue a strong focus on continuing to improve municipal services, as well as keeping the village’s tax burden low.
“I plan to work very hard to find new taxes that support the school system that don’t involve property taxes,” he said. At the top of his list of options, he said, is a one percent sales tax that would be allowed under legislation currently being considered in the Illinois State Legislature.
“That would bring us in line with Forest Park (which passed a sales tax increase last year) but still well below Chicago.”
The election was something of a referendum on presidential management style, as Rider had slammed Paris on numerous occasions for what he termed an overbearing and controlling manner on issues brought before the board. Paris had pretty much shrugged off such criticisms, saying that he had a clear vision of what he wanted for River Forest, and wasn’t afraid to push that agenda hard.
Rider had characterized Paris as someone who has dictated the board’s agenda instead of limiting himself to convening and moderating board meetings.
At a candidate’s forum two weeks ago, Paris opined that “there’s a clear difference between the two of us. Dale feels the presidency is a ceremonial role. I feel it’s a working role.”
Tuesday Rider said that he felt he gave a voice to those in River Forest who agreed with him on Paris’s management style.
While disappointed, he couldn’t claim the presidency, Rider said he felt that he’d achieved an important goal none the less.
“I think I achieved the purpose for which I ran,” he said. “That was to raise the issues I did. I gave [voters] a choice.”
The loss ends Rider’s 18-year career as an elected village official, but not, he says, his involvement in village issues.
“I’m not going to fade away,” he said Tuesday night. “I’m going to continue to voice my opinion on village issues.”