Flossmoor is guaranteed to have a new mayor following the April 6 election, after Paul Braun said he would not run for re-election. And the two hopefuls for the village’s top elected office recently tried to sway some voters during a final-stretch virtual forum.
The forum was held via Zoom on Thursday, March 25, as well as livestreamed on Facebook by the League of Women Voters of Homewood-Flossmoor Area. The hour-long program allowed both Michelle Nelson and Dr. Lakshmi Emory to state their cases to voters in opening and closing remarks. In between, it posed to them 13 questions submitted by the community and vetted by the league.
“Although we would have preferred to host it in person, we’re fortunate to have a Zoom platform to continue our goal of voter education,” moderator Roxie Williams said. “Your vote this election is your voice and will result in your voice being heard. We encourage everyone to vote.”
Emory started the evening by introducing herself as an eight-year resident of Flossmoor and healthcare executive who moved to town for the schools, beautiful neighborhood and welcoming community. She said if elected her focus will be economic growth, fiscal responsibility, equity and inclusion, and local and regional communication.
“I believe Flossmoor is a well-managed municipality,” Emory said. “However, as is true with all municipalities, the village does have room for improvement and has untapped potential.”
Nelson introduced herself as a 17-year resident of Flossmoor and a civil engineer who has managed big projects and loves to “build things.” She noted she also has served for 11 years on Flossmoor Zoning Board of Appeals, helped promote the Hidden Gem Half Marathon and raised more than $48,000 for community institutions. As mayor, she said she would work to grow and promote Flossmoor, improve services, fix the village’s infrastructure and raise home values.
“I’m running for mayor of Flossmoor so that I can solve the challenges Flossmoor faces,” Nelson said. “For over a decade, I’ve wondered why it is that Vollmer Road hasn’t been developed. It’s a vacant, Village-owned property that isn’t bringing in any revenue for our residents and the services we need to provide to our residents.”
Nelson also said “there is a lot of room for improvement on our roads,” and upping the pace on repaving those would be a focus for her in addition to other infrastructure fixes.
Emory said in addition to infrastructure there needs to be a focus on bringing in new businesses and growing business corridors in town. She thinks she is in the best position to do that with experience in handling multimillion dollar budgets and collaboration. She said those skills will translate well to the role of mayor.
“I see a need for strong, continued, professional leadership in the village,” Emory said.
Throughout the debate, the candidates were asked to weigh in how they would market Flossmoor, balance business advocacy with COVID-19 reopening guidelines, work with schools, address vacant spaces, collaborate with other south suburban mayors, address infrastructure and economic development, discourage littering in outlying shopping areas, and ensure equity of services for various neighborhoods in Flossmoor.
They also fielded questions about their financial expertise and volunteer work. And the LWV posed questions about how the candidates would foster racial inclusion and where they stand on the Black Lives Matter movement.
For the forum, Williams said questions were chosen ahead of time from “many” submitted, and neither of the candidates was privy to them ahead of time. Each candidate received 90 seconds to answer each question. They were also given time for opening and closing statements.
“In this time of political polarization, we remain proud of our candidates running positive campaigns and for demonstrating civility in this forum,” Williams said.
In her closing comments, Nelson reflected on the fact that Flossmoor will turn 100 years old in 2024. She also looked beyond that.
“This is a beautiful village,” she said. “Looking ahead, though, there is work to be done to set us up for success for the next 100 years. Together, we will grow and promote Flossmoor, fix our infrastructure, improve village services and raise our home values. I’m not afraid to roll up my sleeves and lead the charge.”
Emory closed the forum by saying she is “the only candidate” with the real-world experience that translates to the role of mayor.
“These skills will be necessary when the village faces challenges that must be met,” she said. “Leadership fixes infrastructure. Tangible relationships drive economic development, and experienced fiscal management balances budgets.
“I am unequivocally the most qualified candidate to serve in the role of mayor of this great village.”
To watch the full forum, visit the LWV HF Area Facebook page.
For another opportunity to learn about the Flossmoor mayoral candidates, watch the Chronicle's Meet the Candidates interviews: