Ceremonial rites, congratulatory handshakes and even a few commentaries were the business of the day at Monday’s village council meeting when winners of the April 17 elections were sworn into office.
Former commissioners Patrick Doolin, Terry Steinbach and Tim Gillian stepped down to make way for newcomers Rory Hoskins, Mike Curry and Marty Tellalian. Each of the departing commissioners offered a few remarks on their years in office, taking the time to thank village employees and even comment on the sometimes bitter rivalries between political opponents.
Gillian, a three-term commissioner whose relationship with Doolin soured over political differences, said flatly that he did not consider Doolin as a friend. However, Gillian said that when he recognized the political battles were affecting him personally, he knew it was time to quit.
Gillian did not run for re-election this year and Doolin, a single-term commissioner, lost his bid for mayor.
“Terry and Patrick, I wish I could say it’s been fun,” Gillian said.
The official results of last month’s municipal voting were technically declared last week, though the unofficial results have been known for some time. Two incumbents, Mayor Anthony Calderone and Commissioner Mark Hosty, were returned to office.
In his final remarks, Doolin made a point of thanking every village department head individually for their years of service while he held office. He did not, however, acknowledge Police Chief James Ryan, with whom a fierce antagonism developed over a personnel dispute involving a friend and business partner of Doolin’s.
Steinbach kept her comments brief and thanked community members for their support. The former commissioner also lost a bid to unseat the mayor.
“I’d like to thank the residents of Forest Park for the opportunity to serve you as commissioner these last four years,” Steinbach said.
Despite punctuating their remarks with final jabs offered from the dais, the outgoing commissioners spent much of their time Monday discussing successes. A village-wide infrastructure project targeting streets and alleys was trumpeted by many, as were the improvements that led to a rebirth of the Madison Street business corridor. Calderone congratulated each of the commissioners on making the commitment to public office, and said, despite differences in their vision, all had the best interests of Forest Park in mind.
After swearing in each of the five new council members, Calderone directed the discussion to the assignment of departments. In accordance with state law, elected officials in the commission form of government must each oversee one of the village’s five departments. What is not prescribed in state statute, however, is the process for making those assignments.
“The law unfortunately, does not explain how you go about making that selection,” Calderone said. “The law is silent.”
Traditionally, the commissioner who received the greatest number of votes oversees the Department of Accounts and Finance, and serves as a sort of vice mayor. Commissioner Hoskins was this year’s leading vote getter and was appointed to oversee that department by a unanimous vote.
However, Commissioner Curry was challenged by Commissioner Tellalian for the Department of Public Health and Safety.
“I would be a very suitable person for this position,” Tellalian said.
Ultimately, he cast the lone vote against Curry’s appointment. Tellalian also voted against appointing Commissioner Hosty to be in charge of the Department of Streets and Public Improvements.
By a unanimous tally Tellalian was appointed to the Department of Public Property.
Calderone encouraged the new council to remember that each department is staffed by professionals and that day-to-day management responsibilities do not belong to individual commissioners. He then asked for their commitment to a thoughtful and productive term.
“We can make a lot of progress or we can decide to make not as much progress,” Calderone said.