Two more challengers emerged in the village council race just before the closing date Monday – including two women, the first to enter the contest.

Connie Custardo and Elsie Norberg, both first-time candidates, have turned in nominating petitions to compete for one of four commissioner spots open in the April election. The final list of candidates challenging the incumbents include: Steve Johnsen, Jon Kubricht, Chris Harris, Eric Connor and Matt Walsh. Three of the four current commissioners have also turned in nominating petitions to run for re-election: Rory Hoskins, Michael Curry and Mark Hosty.

As for the mayor’s seat, Commissioner Marty Tellalian and Mayor Anthony Calderone both turned in petitions and will be vying for the village’s top post.

Meanwhile four candidates have filed petitions to compete for three seats on the District 91 school board. John Tricoci Jr. will be the one challenger to current board members, President Frank Mott, Vice President Sean Blaylock and Rafael Rosa, who have all filed for re-election. School board members serve four-year terms, as do village council members.

Finally, for the park district board, three candidates have turned in petitions to compete for two open spots. The new candidate this year is John Hosty, who will be taking on President Cathleen McDermott and Commissioner Roy Sansone, both running for a another six-year term.

The Review caught up with three of the candidates who are new to the political scene in Forest Park: Custardo, Norberg and John Hosty.

John Hosty

With the park district’s plan to acquire the Roos building and develop additional green space for the village, John Hosty believes it’s an especially opportune time to get involved in “expanding the footprint of the park.”

A Forest Park resident for 16 years, Hosty said, “What I’m looking to do is be involved in truly growing the park and be involved in the next generation of where the park is going to go. I’m hoping the progress will be a draw to keep families here and will draw new families in. If I can be a part of creating that future for the park or future for the town, I’d be happy to step up.”

With two kids, 10 and 12, Hosty said he and his family have been very active in park district activities, including sports, classes and the pool. Ever since his son was in preschool, Hosty has been involved in the Forest Park Youth Soccer Association, serving on the board for eight years, including five years as board president.

Hosty, 48, currently works at Northern Trust. He has had a 25-year career in banking – operations management and project management. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in 1984 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a minor in economics.

“I think I can tie in my expertise and background and be very helpful in driving the decisions that need to be made to move the park forward,” he said. 

Connie Custardo

As a mother of two, Connie Custardo wants to set an example to her children and show them a positive way to bring about change.

“You have to be involved in order to make a difference,” said Custardo, 57, who is running for village commissioner. “You can’t just complain; you have to work, and along the way you help others.”

Custardo believes the village council could use a woman’s voice – and a mother’s.

“I have two children here, so I am very interested in what their future will be,” she said.

A Forest Park resident for almost 12 years, she is currently a part-time bus driver and an engineering student at Triton College. She has also been involved in Little League for a number of years, the last two serving on the board.

As commissioner, Custardo said she will really pay attention to people and listen to what they have to say. 

“I sympathize and understand what regular people are going through,” she said. “I’m your gal!”

Elsie Norberg

Cleveland native Elsie Norberg, 68, has run a couple of small businesses over the years, including a printing company and one focused on planning meetings for other companies. Most recently, she co-founded the Institute for Positive Mental Health, a nonprofit that has been operating for 16 years out of a church in Oak Park.

Given her management experience, a friend recently told her, “You know there are no women running; we think you’d be a good candidate,” Norberg said. “And I thought it was a good idea.”

As a candidate for village commissioner, Norberg said she’d like to focus on promoting business in Forest Park, both along Madison Street and Roosevelt Road, and encourage people to shop locally. 

“I’d also like to make sure our education and our seniors are taken care of,” Norberg said. “And make sure there is activity for the young and teenagers.”

Norberg, a village resident of five years, is a member of Citizens United in Forest Park. Prior to Forest Park she lived in Chicago, where she served as co-chair of a group of roughly 30 people from different agencies and nonprofits who reviewed grant proposals for the city of Chicago.