Sunday, March 28, 2021 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
On March 25, the nonprofit Coalition for Spiritual and Public Leadership (CSPL) hosted what may well be the first bilingual candidates forum in Maywood’s history.
The virtual forum, which took place on Zoom and was streamed live on CSPL’s Facebook page, allowed representatives from three of the four slates with candidates for village board seats, to share their thoughts on a range of issues in the village.
Candidates running with the Peoples Choice Party, the Maywood Strong Party and the Maywood Together Party participated in the forum. The My Maywood Party responded too late to CSPL’s invitation, the organizers said.
Slide shows with text were presented on the screen in English and Spanish, and the forum was also translated into Spanish.
Members of CSPL also asked the candidates to make a range of commitments once they’re in office. The members said the “asks were carefully developed” through surveys, listening sessions with residents and committee meetings that took place over the last year.
Among the requests was that “all communications from village offices [be] bilingual and official village meetings … provide Spanish language translation.”
During an interview on March 26, CSPL member Maria Franco said she and her fellow organizers were happy to have pulled the forum off.
The public forum, hosted by the Coalition for Spiritual and Public Leadership, may well be Maywood’s first bilingual candidates forum. | Screenshot
“I am tremendously happy and proud for us to have done this public meeting,” she said. “This was put on for the people and by the people. We live here. We are the ones who will face the consequences of whatever choices are made.”
Sandra Gates, a CSPL member, said the meeting “was a great show of solidarity,” before estimating that the meeting garnered about 150 participants.
“Grassroots community organizations are super important, because they are on the ground with the rest of the residents and CSPL’s work has been critical to really addressing the real issues in Maywood,” said CSPL member Rose O’Campo.
O’Campo said the social justice nonprofit, which is based in Maywood, has also been active in other areas.
In 2019, CSPL implemented a “Smart Routes to School” program that was funded by Maywood, Proviso Township and District 89. The program was designed to make it safe for students at Irving Middle School to get to and from school.
Last year, the nonprofit helped to persuade people in Maywood to take the Census while also working on COVID-19 testing initiatives.
Franco said she hopes the bilingual public meeting CSPL hosted will allow voters to elect officials who will be more responsive to community needs.
“We are tired of the dysfunction, the fighting, the disagreements and the disunity,” she said. “One of our goals was to create unity. We want to look at Maywood as a diverse, thriving community.”
You can watch CSPL’s public meeting here.