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Voters in Forest Park will get one last chance before the April 17 election to look over the two familiar faces running for mayor and to check out a host of fresh faces running for village council. Tomorrow night, March 29, all the candidates are expected to attend the evening event, sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, Mainstreet, and the Forest Park Review. The forum will be held in the cafetorium of the Forest Park Middle School, which is located at 925 Beloit Ave., beginning at 6:45 p.m. (Doors open at 6.)

Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Laurie Kokenes says it’s important for voters to attend.

“Know your candidates and where they stand before you vote,” said Kokenes. “Especially in this election, there’s a lot of new faces-in the commissioner candidates, all but one. It’s probably a little bit extra important to get out there and get to know people and help you make your decision.”

Most voters are familiar with two-term incumbent Mayor Anthony Calderone and his challenger Commissioner Terry Steinbach who also happens to be Calderone’s next door neighbor and is the mayor’s former grade school classmate. However, there is only one incumbent, Mark Hosty, among the eight candidates vying for four commissioner seats on the village council.

Running for village council are Zoning Board of Appeals Chairman Mike Curry; Traffic and Safety Commission member Rory Hoskins; Hosty, a two-term incumbent seeking his third term on the council; Forest Park Little League President Anthony Lazzara; blogger Carl Nyberg; Elgin Avenue activist John Plepel; Plan Commission member Marty Tellalian; and Recreation Commission member Jerry Webster.

This is the first political race for all the council candidates except for Hosty.

Curry is a 35-year-old lawyer; Hoskins, also 35, is a consultant for a Big Four auditing firm; Lazzara, 37, works as a repo man; Plepel, 32, is a real estate consultant; Webster, 58, is a process server; Nyberg, 39, is a blogger and radio show host; and Tellalian, 53, is an engineer.

The candidates have been meeting voters, putting up signs, and struggling to distinguish themselves from one another. The village council candidates all seem to get along and to even genuinely like each other. They share a camaraderie that is in marked contrast to the frosty relationship between Calderone and Steinbach.

Most of the village council candidates have tried to remain publicly neutral and avoid taking sides in the bitter mayoral race, not wanting to offend the supporters of either mayoral candidate.

However, Hosty is openly supporting Calderone. Lazzara has two big Calderone signs up in his front yard.

“I support and will be voting for Calderone,” said Lazzara who adds that he is running independently and is not beholden to anybody.

“I’m running independently for the people of Forest Park as a commissioner. If Terry Steinbach becomes the mayor, and I am elected as a commissioner I will do my job as a commissioner and support her as the leader of our community. If Tony Calderone is elected, you can drive by my house and see the big signs in my front yard. I’d be very happy because I do think he’s done great things here, and I do think he will keep that going, and I would be proud to serve next to him.”

A few months ago, Lazzara, Curry, and Hoskins all attended a fundraiser for Hosty at Healy’s Westside. According to an Internet posting Hosty introduced Curry, Hoskins, and Lazzara as the candidates who would carry on the vision of the Calderone administration.

“Those were Mark’s comments,” said Hoskins, who formerly worked for the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and in college once worked for a Texas state legislator. “I want to appeal to as broad a base of the electorate as possible and by attending Mark’s fundraiser, that was an opportunity for me to meet some people in Forest Park who I did not have relationships with previously.”

Hosty refused to comment on what he termed a third-party report. Curry refused to confirm or deny that those comments were made.

“I don’t know if that happened,” said Curry. “I’m for Forest Park. Tony has some good ideas, Terry has some good ideas, I’m for Forest Park.” But on Saturday Curry had signs for Calderone, Hosty, Lazzara, and Hoskins as well as a sign for himself planted in his front yard.

Lazzara denied that Hosty made that particular comment.

“I vaguely remember an introduction,” said Lazzara. “What I can 100 percent absolutely, positively guarantee you that Mark Hosty never ever said that we, or me, or anybody at that event would be carrying on a Calderone administration, ever-that was never said. The only comment that I can recall being anywhere close to that was that he did give some sort of positive spin on it and say that whether he, or they, I don’t remember how he worded it, but that we were good candidates, something to that effect.”

Nyberg, Tellalian, and Webster all clearly support Steinbach.

Plepel has managed best of all to avoid being identified with either mayoral candidate.

However all the commissioner candidates are tired of being asked about the mayoral race and prefer to talk issues and their own ideas for Forest Park.

They will get that chance Thursday. Audience members will be able to pose questions to the candidates, listen to their answers, and make up their own minds. It is an opportunity that should not be missed, says Laurie Kokenes.