Maintaining highly livable communities requires constant attention, and a lot of work. If you read the Chronicle’s Voter Guide, you’ll see an impressive group of people who are stepping forward to help with that work.
The commentary below represents the ideas, observations and opinions of the author.
Here at the Homewood-Flossmoor Chronicle, we truly believe our namesake communities are excellent places to live and raise families.
That’s partially because we’re parents who know the enormous benefits to bringing up kids in towns where the schools are the centerpiece of community life, and where diversity and respect for others are always valued.
Our feelings about these towns, of course, are more complicated than the simple proclamation in the first paragraph. Maintaining highly livable communities requires constant attention, and a lot of work.
We knew that when we started a newspaper for Homewood and Flossmoor in 2014. There was, quite simply, no reliable news outlet in either of our towns. It is a terrible thing when that happens – and it’s much too commonplace these days – and we knew the best way to correct that problem was to launch the H-F Chronicle.
So far, so good. When the Chronicle was strictly an online product, people told us they liked it but wondered if we could put out a print edition. With help from members of the community, we were able to scratch together enough money to put out our first print edition in December 2015. We’ve done it every month since then and, starting in February, have mailed the print edition to every residential postal customer in Homewood and Flossmoor.
The Chronicle has a lot of advertising support from local businesses, and that’s been highly gratifying. It’s helping pay our bills and invest in future plans for the paper. It’s the No. 1 reason why you are receiving the Chronicle at home. And we’ve been able to hire highly capable and experienced part-time writers, allowing us to bring you even more local stories.
At the same time, the three of us who started the Chronicle — Eric Crump, Marilyn Thomas and myself — remain volunteers. We believe thriving towns like ours need a free press that reports on matters great and small.
By now, you may be saying to yourself, “That’s fine, but what’s he getting at?”
Here’s the deal. At the Chronicle, we believe we are doing our part by giving you news about our towns free of charge, online daily and once a month in print. In return, we want you to do yours.
For our towns to remain excellent places to live and raise children, we must all be involved. Which is why voting in the April 4 local elections is essential. Candidates elected next week to our school and village boards and other local legislative units will be making decisions that will be important 15 or 20 years from now. They need to have a positive vision of the future, and ideas about how to further improve our communities.
There are, of course, serious challenges lying ahead. There always are. Our challenges, at this time, deal with declining property values, an especially nasty byproduct of the 2008 recession. Our property taxes are high. And diversity carries its own unique set of challenges and rewards that more homogeneous communities never experience.
I am not a young man. Over the course of what now seems like a very long lifetime, I have encountered a number of challenges. I am always amazed that my life turned out so much better than I would have ever expected.
And so, days before another election, I am positive about the future in Homewood and Flossmoor. We live in towns filled with people who care about their neighbors, who are themselves optimistic and have very strong ideas about living together and moving forward.
If you must face challenges and overcome some serious obstacles, wouldn’t you rather do it with the kind of people who live in Homewood and Flossmoor? I would.
Here’s what else I know. At the beginning of 2017, the Chronicle asked candidates in the April election to send us profiles for our Voter Guide. By the end of January, we had received about 50 candidate profiles. For some reason, they were sent to me, which means I got the first look at the candidates’ qualifications and what they had to say about themselves and what they’d like to accomplish.
It’s worth looking at the Voter Guide just to scan their accomplishments. They are an impressive group; it’s remarkable that such qualified candidates are stepping forward to offer themselves for public service, and for mostly unpaid and largely thankless jobs.
I’ve also attended a couple of candidate forums and, again, was impressed by the majority of those on next week’s ballot.
The Chronicle is not endorsing candidates. Personally, I like candidates with a clear, positive vision for the future and also some idea about how to accomplish their goals. We’d like you to be informed — to look at the profiles in our online Voter Guide and otherwise learn about what’s at stake in the local election races. Then vote.
Here at the Chronicle we believe our communities are places where great things can happen. But we also know it will only be accomplished when we roll up our sleeves and work together for the common good.