Four years ago, Mayor Anthony Calderone described mayoral hopeful Chris Harris as being “perpetually against me.” But now Harris apparently “just wants what is best for Forest Park.”   

In a stunning reverse of course, Calderone endorsed Harris for mayor in a statement on March 30. Both Harris and opponent Rory Hoskins served on the council under Calderone, and each were known for having public disagreements with him during that time. After serving a single term, Harris went on to challenge Calderone for mayor in 2015, in a nasty race that Calderone won by a thin margin. Then, Hoskins endorsed Calderone.

“While Chris Harris and I have had many differences over the years, he has always had the integrity and character to stand by his beliefs and be honest and forthright in doing so,” Calderone said in a statement.

He then took a swipe at Hoskins, saying “if someone will look you in the eye and lie, you must really consider what they will do behind your back.” There’s been some speculation that Hoskins had agreed to run as a commissioner under Calderone this round but then changed his mind, announcing in October that he decided to challenge him for the top spot instead.

“I told him that if he really intended to run for mayor, that I’d CONSIDER running for commissioner, but that people in the community wanted me to run for mayor,” Hoskins said in a text message to the Review. Hoskins said he made it clear during a conversation with Calderone that he intended to circulate nomination petitions for mayor.

“I was trying to gently let him know that he should step aside,” Hoskins said in a text.

In December 2018, Calderone announced he would not be running for re-election after 20 years in office, citing personal and professional reasons for leaving the post. His decision came after a slim margin of residents voted video gaming out of town that November. During this time, Harris had been circulating nomination petitions for both the commissioner and mayor’s spots, a tactic he also deployed during his 2015 mayoral run. Shortly after Calderone’s announcement, Harris decided to focus solely on the mayor’s race.  

Hoskins said that he wished Calderone “hadn’t attacked my character.”

“I’m proud of my record of service to Forest Park,” Hoskins said via text, noting that “my conduct in service has helped me receive numerous endorsements in this campaign.”

In March, Congressman Danny Davis (7th) endorsed Hoskins, saying that he’s “been impressed with his honest approach and truthfulness” during the 20 years he’s known Hoskins. Hoskins has also received the endorsement of Secretary of State Jesse White, and the Chicago Laborers’ District Council, a union that represents 20,000 workers across Cook and collar counties.

In his statement, Calderone did not directly name commissioner candidates he planned to endorse, simply saying “I think it is important we have a council that has institutional knowledge, some intelligent fresh blood and people proven that they have the time and strength it takes to lead Forest Park.” He has not made formal endorsements in that race yet but has campaign signs for incumbent Joe Byrnes and newcomer Ryan Nero in the front yard of his home. 

Harris said via email that he was still processing Calderone’s statement.

“I’m not sure I would call it an endorsement as much as his thoughts,” he said. 

On social media, Harris has touted endorsements from the Cement Masons Union Local No. 502, Area 5 Plasterers’, among others.

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