Meet and greet: John Doss kicked off his campaign with an event at Doc Ryan’s on Sunday. His grandson is one of his biggest supporters. | Credit: IGOR STUDENKOV/Staff Reporter

Some 100 people turned out for mayoral candidate John Doss’ official campaign kick-off fundraising event, which was held at Doc Ryan’s bar, 7432 Madison St., on Aug. 28 at 1 p.m.

Some simply stopped by to talk to the candidate and get a better sense of what he stands for, but most came there to support Doss. Both on and off the record, they praised him as a family man who has roots in the community and has experience in the village government. They believed that Doss would make the village more fiscally responsible and generally take the community to greater heights.

Doss currently serves as president of the Park District of Forest Park Board of Commissioners. He worked for the Department of Public Works between 1985 and 2021, not counting the years he worked part-time in high school. He was named public works chief in 2008. He was first elected park commissioner in 2007.

Credit: IGOR STUDENKOV/Staff Reporter

Doss and incumbent mayor Rory Hoskins are currently the only candidates running for mayor in the spring 2023 municipal election. In a pre-launch interview with the Review, Doss said his priorities would be to improve public safety, bring some of the practices he saw work in the park district to the village, work to attract businesses to all village commercial corridors and make some headway around the long-dormant village-owned portion of the Altenheim retirement community property. 

During his kick-off speech, he placed additional emphasis on fiscal responsibility, saying that the Department of Public Works had “the biggest budget in the village,” while also adding that he would support investment in village trees and environmentally friendly infrastructure, framing it as another way to improve public safety.

“In order for us to be safe as a community, [things] need to be safe for our planet as well,” Doss said. 

Jenny Barbahen, a Proviso High School District 209 parent and a member of the Proviso 209 United Board of Education candidate slate, said she came to the event to hear more about Doss’ platform. She said that, generally speaking, she believes that all Proviso Township mayors should be more involved in what’s going on with the district.

“I think it would be great if all Proviso mayors got involved in our schools, because it impacts our taxpayers and our communities,” she said. “[They should] be more supportive and make sure there’s accountability. The biggest chunk of the [property] tax bill goes to schools, so the mayors should care.”

Barbahen declined to share her opinion on Hoskins. 

Doss said that, while he respected school boards’ independence as other taxing bodies, he would support candidates who he believed would benefit the community. He said that he would share the specifics at a later time, as more candidates enter the field. 

Former village commissioner Mark Hosty, who most recently finished third in the June 28 Cook County Board of Commissioners District 9 Republican primary election, was in attendance.

John Doss and family Credit: IGOR STUDENKOV/Staff Reporter

“I have nothing to say to the Forest Park Review,” he said, repeating the statement five times. 

For many supporters, the connection is personal. There were several family members and in-laws in attendance, and several supporters said that their personal history with Doss was a major motivating factor.

“I’ve known him since he was about this high,” retiree Julia “Chickie” Malone said, showing about half of the height of the table she was sitting at. “I want him to be mayor. He’s been a great park commissioner. I want Forest Park to go back to being Forest Park.”

Greg Castongue, who said he was Doss’ friend and worked seasonally for the public works department in the past, described Doss as “the best candidate ever for the job” and Hoskins as “no good.”

“[Hoskins’s] not for the people,” Castongue said. “He has not helped the people. If there’s a problem, he runs away.”

Tom Baloue, a retired banker, said that he supports Doss because “he is the man of the people” who “has been working in the government for a long time” and “he has a sense of what we need to do to make us better.”

“Both he and I are homeowners, we understand the community,” he said. “And he’s the man who walks the street. I don’t think I ever ran into [Hoskins] myself, and I’m out there all the time.”