Elected officials, political candidates, business owners and local residents filled Shanahan’s bar, 7353 Madison St., on the late afternoon of May 25 as incumbent mayor Rory Hoskins kicked off his re-election campaign.
Hoskins has touted economic development that look place under his watch, the progress he made on developing the village-owned portion of the Altenheim site, and his efforts to build relationships with Forest Park School District 91 and the neighboring villages. He said that, if re-elected, his major priorities would be to continue in the same vein, as well as to work with Oak Park and River Forest to improve the Harlem Avenue underpass under the CTA/Metra viaduct. Cong. Danny Davis (7th), River Forest Village President Catherine Adduci and other elected officials praised Hoskins as a dedicated public servant who would bring even more economic development to Forest Park.
In his speech to supporters, Hoskins said he thought Forest Park was “well-positioned” to get significant federal infrastructure funding. His major priority would be improving road access to the Altenheim site, as well as working together with River Forest and Oak Park to “unclog the Harlem/Lake viaduct” — that is, widen it and improve the traffic flow.
“I’m sure most of you have been stuck there, on a Tuesday or a Saturday,” he remarked.
Aside from the challenge of making changes to a spot where the three villages borders converged, there is the fact that the Union Pacific Railroad controls the overpass that includes freight traffic, the CTA el and Metra trains.
Hoskins touted the C4 collaborative, where Broadview, Forest Park, Oak Park, River Forest and potentially other west suburban villages will pool together their resources to become more environmentally sustainable. He said that, if elected, he would pursue other collaborations.
“That’s part of the COVID effect.,” Hoskins said. “COVID has taught us that we really need to work together. “
For example, he said that Forest Park, Oak Park and River Forest could team up on marketing, which he believed would benefit them all.
“What I’ve learned over the last three years is that some of the developers that are busy in Oak Park are also looking at Forest Park,” Hoskins said. “So, if we can market our area jointly, right, it adds value to what we’re doing.”
The incumbent mayor got plenty of support from elected officials. Adduci posed for pictures with Hoskins, and told the Review she supports him “wholeheartedly,” saying that she appreciated the economic development he brought to Forest Park and his efforts to improve collaboration between their villages.
“He’s been a great mayor of Forest Park,” she said. “I’m all for him, I’m 100% behind him, and I’m certain he’ll win the election.”
Kyra Tyler, president of the Forest Park School District 91 school board, said she appreciated Hoskins’ stewardship during the time of crisis.
“I’m supporting Rory because I think he’s doing a great job of managing our
village during the pandemic, and advancing us forward,” she said. “I’d like to see where he’ll take us in the next four years.”
Mariyana Spyropoulos, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District commissioner who is also running for re-election, said she supported Hoskins because she believed that he has been a strong advocate for his constituents.
But by far the biggest endorsement came from Davis, who arrived toward the tail end of the event.
“I think, no matter what anybody else thinks, no matter what anybody else might believe, no matter what anybody else might do, I think that you got yourself a fine public servant,” he said.
Davis noted that Hoskins made Juneteeth, the holiday that marked the end of slavery in United States, a village holiday, before it became a federal holiday
“To me, it just means that Rory was ahead of his time,” he said.
Hoskins replied that he fully supports Davis for re-election. Davis is facing two opponents in the June Democratic primary – Austin community activist Kina Collins, who also ran against him in 2020, and Denarvis Mendenhall – but he has no Republican opponents in the general election.
“The congressman has done a lot of great things people ought to know about,” Hoskins said, citing Davis’ work to advance the since-lapsed expansion of the child tax credit.
Several candidates running for seats on the Circuit Court of Cook County used the gathering as an opportunity to get the word out about their own campaigns. While judges who are elected usually get retained without much trouble, the races for vacant seats tend to fly under the radar, so candidates often struggle to get noticed in the crowded field.
Diana Lopez, who currently serves as an associate judge at the Circuit Court of Cook County traffic court division, is running for one of the at-large circuit court judge seats. She described Hoskins as “a wonderful supporter of mine.”
The event also attracted some residents. Anita Taylor, who moved to Forest Park from Oak Park three years ago, said she’s been impressed with how Madison Street businesses rebounded from the pandemic. She liked the fact that property values have been increasing as property taxes remained lower than Oak Park’s, and she was also happy to see a Chipotle location go up at the northwest corner of Madison Street and Harlem Avenue.
“We did pretty well,” she said. “I’m really hopeful [Hoskins] will win.”