By Bob Skolnik
A fresh faced, energetic 24-year-old is forming a new political organization, the Democratic Party of Brookfield. The group will hold its kickoff event Thursday evening from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Irish Times Pub & Restaurant in Brookfield. Food and drink will be provided and anyone interested in joining or learning more is encouraged to attend.
The driving force behind the Democratic Party of Brookfield is Christopher Ryan Crisanti. Crisanti, fresh out of graduate school, just started working this summer as an analyst at a downtown public relations firm specializing in financial technology called 3Points Communications.
Crisanti, who grew up in Brookfield and is back living with his parents, graduated this May with a master's degree in public administration from Northeastern University in Boston where his faculty advisor was former Massachusetts governor and 1988 Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis.
"I learned a lot from Mike," Crisanti said. "He's very personable. He served not only as a great professor but a friend as well. We talked a lot of politics."
Dukakis impressed Crisanti with his in-depth knowledge of issues and his modest demeanor.
"He's an influence and a model for any public servant who wants to get into politics," Crisanti said adding that he remains in touch with Dukakis.
At Northeastern Crisanti decided that he wanted to return to Illinois and get involved in politics. He caught the political bug working in student government at the University of Dayton where he majored in political science after initially starting as a journalism major with designs on becoming a sportswriter.
Crisanti comes by his Democratic allegiance naturally since his father grew up in the Chicago neighborhood of Bridgeport, home to Richard J. Daley, and for a time, Richard M. Daley and other Chicago mayors.
While at Northeastern last year Crisanti studied the problems with Illinois' public pension system and in studying that issue he contacted State. Rep. Michael Zalewski (D-Riverside) who served on a joint legislative pension reform committee a few years ago.
Once back home this summer Crisanti got involved right away attending a couple of programs at the Brookfield Public Library focusing on Illinois political history and public issues confronting the state. He also got in touch with Zalewski who also serves as the committeeman of the Riverside Township Democratic Organization.
He began going to various forums and connected with state Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) the committeeman for the large and active Democratic Party of Oak Park, commonly known as DPOP, at a forum Harmon and two other state legislators held in Franklin Park.
DPOP is something of a model of the kind of political organization Crisanti wants to build.
Zalewski and Harmon encouraged Crisanti when he mentioned his idea of forming a Democratic Party of Brookfield. Originally Crisanti, who describes himself as a state and local guy, considered creating a civic coalition of Brookfield, but after making contacts with state legislators and party officials he decided that it would be more effective to start a Democratic group in Brookfield.
In Cook County, the Democratic Party is organized on a township basis, but Brookfield is split between Proviso, Lyons, and Riverside townships. Crisanti envisions the Democratic Party of Brookfield as working in harmony with the local township based party organizations.
"We can organize people at the grassroots level and they would go through the Democratic Party of Brookfield and I would communicate with those committeemen," Crisanti said. "The goal right now is to support Democratic candidates in our area running for office."
Crisanti knows that a lot of people are angry at President Donald Trump and Republican Governor Bruce Rauner and are looking for an outlet to turn their outrage into action.
"They're outraged at the news and not doing anything," Crisanti said. "People want to get involved and here's an opportunity for them to get involved. This organization is going to be accessible to anyone who wants to get involved."
Crisanti sees the Democratic Party of Brookfield as focusing on three areas: educating voters about the structure and role of government, discussing state and local policy issues, and working with local Democratic candidates and the township Democratic Party organizations.
Crisanti has been working closely with the Lyons Township Trustee Mike Porfirio and getting help from the Lyons Township Democratic Organization which is headed by State Sen. Steven Landek (D- Bridgeview).
"The Democratic Party of Brookfield is working as a subsidiary of Lyons Township (Democratic Organization)," Crisanti said.
Does Crisanti see himself running for public office in the future?
"My focus right now is the Democratic Party of Brookfield with the goal of trying to help elect local Democratic candidates to office," said Crisanti, showing impressive message discipline.
Editor's note: Story has been updated to reflect an additional quote.