Incumbent Forest Park mayor Rory Hoskins announced his intention to run for re-election, with a campaign kick-off/fundraising event scheduled for May 25 at 5:30 p.m. at Shanahan’s restaurant, 7353 Madison St.
While the election isn’t until April 4, 2023, Hoskins is determined to hit the ground running. In the campaign e-mail, he touted economic development, the progress in the ongoing efforts to redevelop the village owned Altenheim property and rising home values. Hoskins also said that he’s been building relationships with local schools and nearby communities – something that he plans to continue doing if re-elected.
The May 25 fundraiser comes as Hoskins is looking to refill his campaign war chest. Hoskins for Mayor campaign committee, which remained active since the last election, currently has only a few hundred dollars in the bank. An election campaign report shows the campaign owes $3,000 to an advertising firm, but Hoskins said that this was a clerical error, and the debt was paid off more than two years ago.
In his campaign e-mail, Hoskins touted economic development that happened on his watch, pointing to the under-construction Chipotle location at the northwest corner of Harlem Avenue and Madison Street, the village’s main commercial entry point. He also mentioned that “Madison Street is as busy as ever” – something which has been an ongoing concern throughout the COVID-19 pandemic – but he made no reference to the ongoing complaints of rowdy behavior near some bars, or his efforts to address the issue, anywhere in the e-mail.
Hoskins touted the demolition of the vacant buildings on the village-owned Altenheim property, clearing the way for redevelopment. And he also took credit for the plans to demolish the long-vacant Pines Restaurant and the Oak Leaf Lounge property, 7400-7412 Harrison St. The Park District of Forest Park, bought the site on March 3 for $1.25 million in order to expand its Harrison Street footprint. The park is a completely separate entity from the village.
Furthermore, Hoskins took a bow for the February 2021 deconversion of the condominium buildings at 1037, 1029, 1021, 1013 and 1005 Des Plaines Ave. into apartments, saying that it improved public safety and “has resulted in a noticeable decline in police calls to those locations.” As Steve Glinke, Forest Park’s public health and safety director, told the Review at the time, the village was not involved in the change because the deconversion is a civil matter between the buyer and the sellers and is regulated under the Illinois Condominium Property Act.
In a follow-up interview, Hoskins told the Review that, in both cases, the parties involved in the transactions approached the village, and he gave the projects their blessings. He said that, with the Pines site, he will support any zoning changes and other village-level approvals the project may require. In case of the Des Plaines Avenue deconversions, Hoskins said that, when some condominium owners tried to halt the process by refusing to sell, the village didn’t take sides.
“We wanted to let the market forces operate and tried not to interfere with them,” he said.
Hoskins told the Review that he took pride in building relationships with Forest Park School District 91 students, teachers and parents. He said he makes a point of attending back-to-school events and graduation ceremonies, speaking in classrooms when teachers invite him and creating opportunities for students to see how the village government work. On May 9, a group of fourth graders got an inside look at the village’s police and fire departments.
“Ever since I became a mayor, I tried to be involved with the local schools,” Hoskins said. “I really believe in the importance of interacting with parents, interacting with students.”
The e-mail touted Hoskins “working closely with our neighboring communities to the east and west” of Forest Park. He told the Review that he meant lobbying efforts toward something that benefitted several western suburbs, such as the Rebuild 290 coalition, a grouping of state and local politicians that wanted to get federal infrastructure bill funding to rebuild the Eisenhower Expressway. Hoskins also said that there were more low-key collaborations. When Forest Park went out to buy security cameras, they made sure they got the same models and software as River Forest to ensure cross-compatibility.
“We’re also doing a few fun things,” Hoskins said, adding that, during this year’s St. Patrick’s Day, “mayors of Oak Park and River Forest marched in our parade with us.”