The state’s 7th District house seat, which comprises much of Forest Park, might be up for grabs in 2012 if Karen Yarbrough, its current occupant, succeeds in moving to a county-wide office. And if it is open, at least two local politicians are prepping for a run.
Yarbrough has held the seat since 2001, but she told the Forest Park Review last week that she plans on running for Cook County Recorder of Deeds. Chris Welch, Proviso Township School District 209 president, and Forest Park Commissioner Rory Hoskins are on the list of possible contenders for the seat.
Neither will officially declare his candidacy until Yarbrough publically announces she will not seek reelection, though.
Last week, Hoskins hinted at his desire to run when he told the Review that U.S. Rep. Danny Davis (D-7) recently told him he would be the “best person to represent the district” if Yarbrough opts not to run.
“He seems to know what the issues are, and he seems to know what the processes are. He’s bright, [and] he’s an intelligent and engaging young fellow, and he’s been involved with political activity,” said Davis last week in an interview with the Review.
“For my money, right now, I would say Rory has as much viability as any of the other candidate,” said Davis, stopping short of offering an endorsement. “To the extent that he is considering a run, I would consider supporting him.”
Hoskins said he is currently talking to “stakeholders in the district.”
Outside of his four years as a village commissioner, Hoskins also worked for the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity for six years.
If Welch runs for the seat, it will be his second shot in as many elections. In 2006, he faced Yarbrough in an unsuccessful bid during the Democratic primary.
Welch, an attorney, has spent the last decade on the D209 school board, where he currently presides as president.
Davis alluded to the fact that Welch, who has strong fundraising capabilities, would be a formidable opponent for anyone in the race.
“You’d have to count Chris in, should he decide to run,” Davis said.
Welch said this about a possible run, in an email to the Review: “I can acknowledge that several community groups and members have approached me about running to replace her [Yarbrough] if she decides to seek higher office. I’m intrigued, and I am looking at it very seriously. At this time, I am still considering this opportunity, but would only consider running if Karen Yarborough runs for higher office and does not seek reelection.”
Davis added that, although Welch’s time on the school board has been surrounded by “some controversy,” Welch is “bright, intelligent … active and engaged.”
In the past Welch has faced off with community members and politicians who were critical of his policies on the school board.
During the 2006 primary Welch and Yarbrough were political opponents, but Welch indicated that the squabbling is in the past.
“For many years … both Karen and I have fought for what we believe is important for the Proviso region, and on occasion, we find ourselves on different sides of issues, but we have always handled our respective positions and treated each other with professionalism and respect due [to] our elected offices,” he wrote in another email.
“Either one of them I would consider a viable candidate,” Davis said.
Yarbrough was less forthcoming with an opinion on either candidate.
When asked about Hoskins she said, “He has electability, but beyond Forest Park, I’m not so sure. He would have to figure that out.”
As for Welch, she said “He told me he was interested, and I wish him well, and we’ll see.”
Yarbrough is looking to succeed Gene Moore, the current recorder of deeds and like Yarbrough a Maywood resident. She told the Review last week that she was under the impression that he was not seeking reelection, although Moore’s office did not return phone calls seeking confirmation. What’s more, Moore’s Maywood home is currently in foreclosure, and he owes around $78,000 in back payments.
Yarbrough also said she is concentrated on getting slated by the Cook County Democratic Party for the office. Last week, a spokesperson for the party refused to confirm that this is even being considered at the present time.
Yarbrough said that, if elected, she wants to improve the office’s computer system, better train its staff, and institute an anti-fraud unit.
This article has been updated to correct the year of the primary when Welch and Yarbrough were political opponents.