Resident John Grant is running for River Forest village trustee, saying he’s passionate about the village’s tax-increment financing (TIF) districts, development and sustainability. Three seats will open on the board come April.  

“I think the village is doing pretty well. I think that [President] Cathy Adduci works hard and provides steady leadership, and I think the board members have been working together,” Grant said. “I think that the village is on a pretty good path right now; it’s fiscally sound. So I would like to just continue the progress.”  

Grant grew up in Chicago in a family was of “modest means,” earned scholarships, and eventually graduated from Fenwick High School and Colgate University. Twenty-three years ago, a college friend loaned him a “few thousand dollars” to buy his first three-flat and from there, Grant said, he has built a valuable real estate portfolio of residential properties located primarily in the Roscoe Village and Logan Square neighborhoods in the city. He has three children. This is the first elected office Grant has sought.

“I believe essentially in free market, but I do think there is a role for government,” he said, describing himself as “politically moderate.”  

Grant said he was inspired to run, in part, after successfully lobbying the village in September 2018 to relax its ordinance regarding fire sprinklers, to more closely align with the villages of Oak Park, Elmwood Park and Forest Park. Earlier in the year, he had been renovating his home and realized that an update to the sprinkler system for his small addition would cost about $10,000. He researched fire sprinkler ordinances in neighboring communities. 

“I couldn’t really find any towns that had that monitoring requirement the way River Forest did,” he said. Then he called fire sprinkler firms and collected signatures from about 110 residents who felt the village’s system needed changing. 

“Everybody sort of felt like [the ordinance] was a little aggressive and a lot of people were unhappy with it,” he said.  

Grant consulted with village board members about the cause. The village conducted its own study of River Forest’s requirements and eventually changed the ordinance. Under the new rules, he said, residences in River Forest can save at least $60 per month because their fire sprinklers no longer have to report to a central monitoring system. He considers it his first successful legislative effort. 

“There was some resistance to change, but I was very confident in my community and we overcame that without blowing anything up and without getting anybody mad,” Grant said. “I enjoyed that process. I thought I did well with that, and it’s another reason why I became interested in running for the board.” 

Grant pointed to his experience working as a small real estate investor. That experience has prepared him to help manage development projects like Lake and Lathrop. The village board approved a five-story, mixed-use development there in September 2018, and “it was approved conditionally, so there will need to be oversight,” he noted. 

Grant also feels strongly about the village’s TIF districts and would look forward to working with staff about how to manage the entities.   

“A TIF district is a live, organic thing,” he said. “It’s something that needs continual management and oversight. There’s money coming in, but there are all sorts of decisions about how to manage the TIF district, how to bring businesses in, how to work with existing businesses, and then also looking at possible deals and whether they’re right for the village.” 

In his personal and professional life, he is also a big fan of environmental stewardship, saying that a strong business community and healthy environment goes hand in hand. He participated in the Green4Good Committee this year at Willard Elementary School, and also said he would be interested to look into whether the village could be more bike-friendly. River Forest is currently formulating a bike plan. 

“Hard work, attention to detail, and I’m not afraid to make difficult decisions,” he said. “I’m running because I have something to offer the village.”

CONTACT: ntepper@wjinc.com  

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