Newly elected commissioners Chris Harris and Tom Mannix were sworn into office at Monday night’s village council meeting, alongside incumbent board members Rory Hoskins and Mark Hosty. Mayor Anthony Calderone also took the oath of office for the fourth time. Judge Pat Rogers of the Cook County Circuit Court swore them all in.
The first order of business for the newly formed village board was to elect the commissioners to specific department posts. In doing so, the new board showed signs of the divisiveness that permeated the last council during its waning days.
Before Calderone finished explaining the first order of business to a packed house, Mannix interrupted the mayor and said, “I would like to nominate Mark Hosty to be commissioner of accounts and finance.”
Hosty seconded the motion, but before it could come to a vote, Hoskins expressed his desire to retain the seat.
“Historically the candidate with the highest votes will choose,” said Hoskins, noting that, traditionally, the commissioner candidate who garnered the most votes in the election chooses the department he wishes to oversee. With 1,361 votes, Hoskins topped other commissioner candidates.
Hosty and Village Administrator Tim Gillian said that it was a tradition, not a mandate.
Harris then made a motion to amend Mannix’s motion to nominate Hosty, which temporarily voided Mannix’s initiative. Hoskins seconded Harris’s amended motion, but they were a defeated by a three to two vote, spearheaded by Mannix, Hosty and Calderone.
Those three campaigned on a slate near the end of the election and voted in unison on every matter at Monday night’s meeting.
“If I’m appointed to this position, I would return phone calls to Moody’s and would have a responsibility to the people of Forest Park, not the political wings out there,” Hosty said. It was a jab at Hoskins’ failure to return the calls of a Moody’s analyst who tried to reach him numerous times last year before downgrading the village’s bond rating.
Hosty was ultimately elected commissioner of accounts and finances, with the support of Calderone and Mannix. He was previously the commissioner of streets and public improvement.
When Mannix was then nominated for commissioner of streets and public improvement, Harris made another amended motion. He and Hoskins teamed up to try and defeat the nomination, but were defeated by three votes from Calderone, Hosty and Mannix. Mannix was elected commissioner of streets and public improvement, in the end.
“We got another 3-2 vote,” Calderone said.
During the shuffling of posts, Hoskins was elected commissioner of public health and safety and Harris was voted in as commissioner of public property, despite abstaining from the vote.
The board is literally divided, as well: Mannix sits next to Hosty, his political ally; and Harris is seated next to Hoskins whose votes he backed almost entirely on Monday night. Harris ran as an independent during the campaign, though.
The freshman commissioners replaced ousted board members Mike Curry and Marty Tellalian. Curry lost a bid for a second term and Tellalian gave up his seat in a futile mayoral run.
Both spoke briefly before stepping down from the council desk on Monday.
“I want to say thank you it was a wonderful experience,” said Tellalian, addressing Forest Park’s citizenry.
He also gave some advice to the incoming commissioners and even paid tribute to Calderone, his political rival.
“Be guided by the best long-term interests of Forest Park,” Tellalian said, adding that there are “a lot of competing interests out there.”
“I certainly appreciate when I see him [Calderone] out there on the streets when the power goes out, and that we have a mayor that cares for Forest Park,” he added.
Per custom, Curry announced upcoming events and expressed well wishes – this time it was a pasta dinner at the Kiwanis Club on Saturday and a belated Happy Mother’s Day.
He told the crowd it was an “honor” to serve the village.
Both Curry and Tellalian were presented plaques for their service to the village. After Calderone presented Tellalian with the plaque, Tellalian, who has a reputation for being a fiscal hawk joked, “I hope it wasn’t too expensive.” He and Calderone butted heads over the village’s spending throughout his four years in office.
“Take it easy,” Calderone kidded back. “What, you’re not worth it?”