Rory Hoskins has made history tonight as Forest Park’s first black mayor, beating out opponent Chris Harris by a 59-41 percent margin.
“I want to thank everyone for the hard work they put in. Before I say anything else, I want to thank my wife Monique. I’ve been blessed with a great family, I’ve been blessed with a great set of friends,” Hoskins told a crowd of supporters at Shanahan’s on April 2.
“We’ve got a lot of things we’re going to do in Forest Park. We’re going to have an open government, we said that repeatedly, but in all seriousness, we’re going to have to work with a new board and the board includes a bunch of personalities that I’m going to have to get to know,” he added.
With all 11 precincts reporting—the final precinct’s totals did not come in until after 10 p.m. on April 2—Hoskins captured nearly 59 percent of the vote, compared to Harris’ 41 percent. Vote totals will change slightly as mail and provisional ballots are tabulated in the coming days, but there was already greater turnout this round than the last mayoral election in 2015, with 150 more voters showing up at the polls.
Chris Harris declined to comment on the results. After serving as commissioner for four years, Harris went on to challenge former Mayor Anthony Calderone in a bitter race in 2015. Harris has also run unsuccessful bids for Cook County commissioner and state representative of the seventh district.
“It takes a lot to put yourself out there, and it’s a lot of work to get to this point,” Harris posted on social media earlier in the day. “The community is better for having so many good folks running for office. It makes me proud to be a Forest Parker.”
Hoskins, too, unsuccessfully challenged Emanuel “Chris” Welch for state representative. From 2007 to 2015, Hoskins also served as village commissioner, and was the first black representative to step into that post. He is responsible for bringing the now-annual Juneteenth Pool Party to Forest Park, a tradition he grew up with in Texas that celebrates African-Americans’ emancipation from slavery.
Hoskins is a soccer coach and parent of four, including a third-grader at Field-Stevenson Intermediate Elementary School. He works as an attorney.
During the campaign, he racked up a number of high-profile endorsements, from Congressman Danny Davis (7th), Secretary of State Jesse White, former governor Pat Quinn, among others. He ran with a progressive slate of commissioner candidates named Forest Park Forward. Of that slate, only Jessica Voogd broke through the crowded commissioner race.
“I want to give a shout out to Forest Park Forward, all the commissioner candidates, they worked really hard,” Hoskins said at Shanahan’s.
In a separate phone interview, Voogd said she was still processing the results. She was the third-highest vote getter in the election, with incumbent Dan Novak capturing the most votes, newcomer Ryan Nero coming in second and incumbent Joe Byrnes coming in fourth.
“If we can be candid with each other in discussions, open to new ideas, I think we can find some success,” she said of the new commissioner mix.
Voogd said she feels passionate about driving economic development in Forest Park, sustainability, updating the village website and creating a mobile app, and “making us approachable and easily accessible.” She said she wanted to thank Forest Park Forward for supporting her in the campaign.
“We had different opinions and different perspectives and I just really truly hope that I can give some life to that and make that a reality in the next four years,” she said.
Byrnes, who served the last four years, said he felt good about being elected to his second term.
“Everybody ran a clean campaign,” he said of the commissioner’s race.
Byrnes said he wanted to thank his family—calling out his wife, daughter and son—as well as Mike Thompson, who runs the American Legion, and “all the friends that devoted time to help me go door to door and pass out information.”
“I think I was blessed a lot,” he said.
He said the first thing commissioners need to do is sit down and get to know each other.
“This is a unique situation, this is the first time we had a different mayor in 20 years,” Byrnes said. “Management style and things like that will be different, so we just have to see. Sit down, probably have a special meeting and discussion what positions people have and what should we be working on right off the bat, so we can come out on a roll and get things done.”
Nero and Novak did not respond to interview requests.