It is a positive and future-focused spring in Forest Park. And it is in that spirit that we offer our enthusiastic mayoral endorsement to Rory Hoskins.
Hoskins has the experience as a village commissioner, the deep local ties essential to earning a place in Forest Park, the demeanor to lead a village with genuine challenges while also leading us past the divisiveness that has fundamentally defined Forest Park for too many years.
Rory Hoskins is both quiet spoken and plain spoken. In this campaign he has directly addressed Forest Park’s unsustainable financial path. Those challenges of rising costs and flat-to-declining revenue are not unique to Forest Park and are not, despite some noise, particularly impacted by the exit of video gaming.
Forest Park will benefit from the fresh eyes of a new mayor and a substantially remade village council as it looks hard at the cost structure of the village. Our local government is not fat, but it is unexamined, as one would expect after any 20-year mayoralty. Hard choices on costs must come.
But it is on the growth side that Hoskins has the most to offer. He has an expansive and inclusive view of the potential for economic development in Forest Park. He will work his wider state and regional network of contacts, he will find local expertise, and he will work hard to sell the village’s considerable virtues to investors who see our prime location as an asset.
A longtime soccer coach as his kids came up, Hoskins has also been very active as a dad in District 91. He founded the fabulously fun and inspirational Juneteenth Family Pool Party in 2008 as a way to showcase this town’s unifying and powerful diversity.
We don’t mind for a minute that Hoskins, an attorney, has a full-time job downtown. Being mayor was never intended as a full-time job. While he says he has the flexibility to make any meeting, we like the idea of a village administrator fronting the village’s day-to-day operations and a mayor and council focused on policy decisions.
It heartens us to hear Hoskins’ view on the obsolete commissioner form of government bending toward the Review’s longtime position. Whether he moves us directly toward a referendum on the topic is less important than his clear message to village department heads and staff that they are valued and respected professionals and that he and the new council members will let them work.
Forest Park has had a sub-par village council for far too long. We are recommending a mix of incumbents and newcomers who, directed away from staff meddling, will be empowered as leaders helping to set and debate an actual agenda for the future.
A word about Chris Harris, the other mayoral candidate this year. It is always good to have a contested election and Harris, to date, has run a credible and positive campaign. We admire his past efforts to engage residents in important town hall discussions. That urge toward transparency and dialogue is essential in this divided town. Our hope is that Harris will remain active and that as mayor, Rory Hoskins will look for ways to involve him.