Village Commissioner Rory Hoskins said Tuesday he will not seek a third term. The village’s first African-American commissioner, he received more votes in his first term in 2007 than any other person on the ballot. Hoskins also ran unsuccessfully for 7th District state representative in a four-way primary race in 2013, losing to Emmanuel “Chris” Welch by less than 40 votes.
Hoskins, who grew up in Galveston, Texas, helped institute the village’s recognition of the Juneteenth holiday, in 2007. The holiday is a tradition celebrated in Galveston for a century and now recognized around the country. Hoskins also started the yearly Juneteenth Pool Party, now run by the Park District of Forest Park, School District 91 and the Kiwanis Club.
Looking over his past eight years as commissioner, Hoskins said the non-binding referendum on video gambling was one of the council’s best moves.
“It was important to put that issue to the people of Forest Park, and ask for their input,” Hoskins said.
Hoskins also said he was proud of the council’s work in 2010 to build relationships with the Illinois Department of Transportation and Springfield to help get funding for water main replacements at Harvard Street and Jackson Boulevard.
That relationship helped pave the way for later infrastructure grants from the state and IDOT, he said. The village got a federal grant with a 20-percent match to make the repairs.
Hoskins said he was privileged to sit in on some of the early discussions about District 91’s implementation of the Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) behavioral program, which teaches students social skills reinforced with praise for good behavior. The seeds of the program began with a partnership with the Loyola University School of Social Work, which helped implement the program and provided support.
The PBIS program is now fully integrated in Forest Park schools and used at the library, park district and community center.
Hoskins said the village needs a nudge to have a more racially diverse village hall staff. There are no African-American village employees except in the police department, he said. He hopes to help with the diversity commission mentioned by Mayor Anthony Calderone when the village tabled the “saggy pants” ordinance last month. Hoskins said a good model was the Village of Hanover Park.
“I’m glad Forest Park hired a Spanish speaking employee, and I support those efforts,” Hoskins said.
In his final four months, Hoskins hopes to help the village nail down brownfield remediation grant money offered through Cook County and use it to help tear down derelict buildings on the Altenheim property.
Hoskins has often been on the losing side of the council’s 3-to-2 votes over the year, but he doesn’t mind.
“I’m proud I stood up for my principles on the tough votes in the village and voted my conscience,” he said. “I didn’t always go the route of popular vote.”