At the close of the filing deadline on Monday, 13 candidates petitioned for a shot at five council seats in the upcoming municipal election, all but guaranteeing the governing body will have a decidedly different makeup come spring.
Mayoral incumbent Anthony Calderone was the fourth and final candidate to declare their candidacy for the corner office, and is set to take on two sitting commissioners as well as a relative unknown in Forest Park politics. Meanwhile, Commissioner Mark Hosty is the lone incumbent seeking re-election to one of the four council seats not occupied by the mayor.
Commissioners Patrick Doolin and Theresa Steinbach are both challenging Calderone for the mayor’s seat, and Commissioner Tim Gillian is stepping down after 12 years in office. Neither Doolin nor Steinbach would be reinstated as commissioners should they lose their bids for mayor.
This means at least three new faces will occupy seats on the council following the April 17 election.
“I think certainly it has something to do with the contentiousness of the council,” Hosty said. The last four years were marred by “back biting” politics, Hosty said, which will likely come to an end with the turnover.
“If the right person is re-elected mayor I think we can move in the right direction, given the names running for commissioner,” Hosty said.
The fourth mayoral candidate is Negale Jackson, who is the only contestant not currently in public office. On his petitions to declare his candidacy, Jackson listed 324 Marengo Ave. as his address.
That address was the focus of a police investigation following an alleged stabbing in late October. According to police reports, Jackson refused to allow officers into the home when they discovered the assault while responding to a disturbance call at the address.
The victim reportedly told police he was working security during an underage drinking party there when the attack occurred. No charges were filed against the alleged attacker and police dropped their investigation of the incident after witnesses refused to cooperate.
According to police, Jackson was not a suspect in the stabbing.
The owner of the property at 324 Marengo Ave., Michael Perry, told the Review in November that he does not have a lease agreement with Jackson.
Challenging Hosty for council seats are Jerry Webster, John Plepel, Rory Hoskins, Michael Curry, Martin Tellalian, Richard Scafidi, Anthony Lazzara and Carl Nyberg.
Nyberg is a former columnist for the Forest Park Review.
Village Administrator Mike Sturino said the municipality is reviewing the petitions for glaring inconsistencies that might immediately disqualify a candidate. This “preliminary certification” is only necessary “if it’s apparent from the face of the papers” that a petitioner violated election law, Sturino said.
“I think, I believe, there are some issues,” Sturino said.
The village administrator declined to comment on those petitions that might be ruled invalid.
Any candidate hoping to win office this spring needed only 16 signatures to petition their name onto the ballot. According to Village Clerk Vanessa Moritz, petitioners need to collect a total number of signatures equal to 1 percent of the voter turnout in the previous mayoral election. Because the last mayor’s race was uncontested, Moritz said the turnout was quite low at 1,506.
Calculating 1 percent of 1,506, Moritz said she would round up.
The local electoral board will not investigate whether candidates meet the one-year residency requirement or the validity of the signatures they’ve collected unless a challenge is filed by a member of the public. Challenges may be filed with the village clerk through Dec. 26.
The village’s preliminary certification process is separate from any challenges that might be filed.
Because of the number of potential candidates running, a primary will likely be held on Feb. 27 to whittle the mayor’s race down to two candidates for the April election. Candidates running for commissioner may also square off in a primary on the same date, narrowing that field to eight for the April balloting.