With more votes than any other candidate in the eight-man field, Rory Hoskins easily won himself a seat on the village council in Tuesday’s elections, and in doing so, will be Forest Park’s first black commissioner.
Hoskins took almost 18 percent of the votes cast in the commissioner’s race, amassing a total of 1,674, according to the unofficial results posted by the Cook County clerk. Joining him at the table the next four years will be Martin Tellalian, Michael Curry and Mark Hosty.
“It certainly has meaning,” Hoskins said of being the first black commissioner. “But I really hope people look at my qualifications more than they look at my skin color.”
Hoskins’ first priority in office will be getting acclimated to the staff and understanding their different strengths and weaknesses. In the long term though, Hoskins said he hopes to help the government be a more inclusive body, representative of the entire population.
“One day’s vote totals won’t change that,” Hoskins said.
John Plepel finished fifth in a race for four seats on the council, losing to Hosty by 189 votes, according to the unofficial results. Also unsuccessful in their bids were Anthony Lazzara, Carl Nyberg and Jerry Webster. All of these candidates were newcomers to the local political scene.
“I think I’ll stay involved,” Plepel said of his foray into the fray. “To what extent I don’t know. I still care about the village. There are a lot of great things that can happen here.”
Hosty was the only incumbent commissioner in the race. Both Tellalian and Curry, who finished second and third respectively, hold appointed positions within the village. Tellalian is a member of the Village Planning Commission and Curry is chairman of the Zoning Board of Appeals.
Hoskins is also serving by appointment on the village’s Traffic Safety Committee.
During the campaigns, candidates focused on the issues of economic development, transparency in government and civility at the council level. Voters also raised questions about informal slates or alliances being formed between the mayoral candidates and those running for commissioner. Most of the candidates expressed a willingness to work with the mayor regardless of who holds the title, and Curry emphasized his independence on Tuesday.
“I’m going to do what’s right,” Curry said.
Nyberg is a self-admitted critic of Mayor Anthony Calderone, who was elected to a third term Tuesday, but spoke optimistically of the village’s prospects. “Good people” won the commissioner’s race, Nyberg said, and it’s likely the next four years will be productive.
“Tony has a lot of qualities,” Nyberg said. “I think if he has the desire to make some adjustments and be more inclusive, I think he has the potential to be a great mayor.”
During the February primary, which was held strictly for the mayoral race, 31 percent of the village’s 7,987 registered voters went to the polls. New voters were allowed to register in the weeks following the February vote, and on Tuesday Forest Park had 8,139 registered voters, according to Village Clerk Vanessa Moritz.
The Cook County clerk’s website has a registration total of 8,146, according to its precinct-by-precinct breakdown.