A sizable crowd of supporters, elected officials and local candidates filled Duffy’s Tavern, 7513 Madison St., on the late afternoon of Feb. 1 for commissioner Maria Maxham’s election fundraiser.
This was the first-ever campaign fundraiser for Maxham, who was appointed to the seat vacated by commissioner Dan Novak in July 2021, after serving as editor of the Review. In an interview during the fundraiser, Mayor Rory Hoskins reflected that he appointed her because he appreciated her work and he thought someone with her talent and experience had much to offer to the village – a perspective that several of her supporters shared.
In fact, talking to supporters, whether they were elected officials or not, revealed certain themes. They described Maxham as someone who cared deeply about Forest Park and was willing to consider multiple perspectives before making her decisions. Several said they appreciated her willingness to host town halls, and the fact that she was reachable by phone.
While Maxham originally planned to have a fundraiser last October, it was scrapped after her father, Andrew Weiss, collapsed and was taken to the hospital shortly before the event was scheduled to begin. Weiss died later that evening.
Maxham said that, while she wanted to do a fundraiser again, it was a while before she was ready. She told the Review that she was grateful for all the people that showed up.
“I’m thrilled with how [the fundraiser] went,” Maxham said. “There were so many friends, neighbors and a few people I met for the first time. I’m humbled and extremely honored to have so many people supporting me. I couldn’t have asked for a better night.”
Maxham was the only village commissioner to attend Hoskins’ kick-off fundraiser, and the mayor returned the favor.
“She has a lot to offer and she’s willing to govern,” he reflected. “Not everyone who has something to offer is willing to serve. That’s important.”
Two other village commissioner candidates – Michelle Melin-Rogovin and Joe Landgrebe – were on hand to support Maxham. Melin-Rogovin, who has been upfront about her support for Maxham from the start of her own campaign, said she believes the incumbent has been “very effective” as a commissioner.
“I think it’s really important that people who are on the village council are collaborative and work well together,” she said. “That’s the perspective that Maria brings to the village council – open to collaboration and teamwork. I think Maria has been great in her role and I look forward to joining her.”
“She’s an asset to the community,” said Landgrebe. “She truly cares about Forest Park.”
Candidates running for other governing bodies showed up as well. Proviso Township High School District 209 board member Claudia Medina, who is running for reelection, said Maxham has been her friend for years, and she appreciates the fact that Maxham made support for area schools a major priority in her campaign platform.
Shannon Wood, a District 91 board member running for re-election in an uncontested race, said she supports Maxham because the commissioner “has some great ideas and tends to be an open-minded person.”
Campaign volunteer and activist Etta Worthington, who was recently re-appointed to the Forest Park Environmental Control Commission, said she supported Maxham because she liked the fact that she approached her position “a bit differently.”
“I’m just really impressed with the way she’s looking at mental health as part of public health,” she said. “She works well with other commissioners and the administrative people. We’re a small town, we work together every day. I’m excited to help
get her [elected to her] first full term.”
The business community turned up as well. David King, a local commercial leasing agent, was among several people who said Maxham’s experience reporting on the government gave her “tremendous insight into the community” that served her well in her position.
“I truly appreciate that, first and foremost, she has the interest of both residents and the business community in her mind,” he said.
Jimmy’s Place restaurant owner Jim Jodoin, said he liked her before she became commissioner, describing her as a “sweetheart.” He said he was glad that, when she took the position, she remained accessible
“You can call her, for God’s sake,” said Jodoin. “[I came to the fundraiser] so I can help her and support her as a commissioner.”
Indeed, one of the common sentiments that came from Maxham’s supporters was that they thought she was accessible and cared deeply about the village.
“I know she’ll [fight] a good fight for Forest Park,” said Kelly Rice. “She’s honest and sincere, and really cares about Forest Park.”
“I support Maria because she’s a real believer in the community,” said Tamera Marshall. “She operates from a place of curiosity and respect, and she’s not a politician. She’s able to see multiple points of view and does due diligence in considering multiple perspectives before making her conclusions.”