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It was standing room only at Village Hall during Monday night's Board meeting when new Park Forest trustees John Moore and Randle White, along with new Village mayor, Joseph Woods, were sworn into office.
Speaking to a sea of supporters in their first public comments since being elected on April 4, Moore, White, and Woods all expressed appreciation to the community they will serve over the next four years.
Moore, who was raised in the Village before moving away for a period of time, returned in 2014 and immediately looked to get involved. Moore credited his mother for providing him with a passion for serving Park Forest.
"Mom really taught me to love this Village," Moore said. "She taught me how the Village works."
Moore expressed his hope that residents feel good about Park Forest.
"I want you guys to be excited about Park Forest," Moore said. "We've had our challenges. We've had some outrageous challenges. And any other community facing the challenges we've faced would be in trouble."
White, also raised in the Village and who most recently served as a school board member for District 163, credited a host of residents he said made his election to the Village board possible.
"I'm here because of the support that you all did throughout this campaign," White said.
"Thank you to the Village of Park Forest and its residents for standing with me and staying patient with me on my journey as I grow to be the best version of myself."
With three Village trustee seats to be decided, and former trustee Candyce Herron not seeking re-election, Moore and White finished second and third, respectively, with incumbent Tiffani Graham placing first at the polls in April's elections. Graham was not in attendance Monday due to a scheduling conflict.
Newly elected mayor Joseph Woods previously served as Village trustee for four years and ran unopposed after former mayor Jonathan Vanderbilt dropped out of the race in February. In an impassioned speech, Woods vowed to work with legislators and assessors to address issues surrounding how properties in the Village are assessed. He said he'd also like to readopt the Board's rules of procedures, reestablish the neighborhood meetings program, and reestablish the Park Forest Civic Leadership Academy.
Woods closed his comments by recalling a conversation he once had with famed poet Maya Angelou who encouraged him always speak emphatically about his community and never to 'bow down.'
"So, Southland, let's stand up in all our glory," Woods said. "Park Forest, let's stand up in all our glory."
"Board of Trustees, leaders, and representatives of this community let's stand up in all our glory."
Click here to watch the Board meeting of May 1 and to view other past Board meetings.