Forest Park Firefighters Local 2753, the labor union representing rank-and-file village firefighters, endorsed incumbent mayor Rory Hoskins, incumbent commissioner Ryan Nero and first-time candidate Joe Landgrebe in the upcoming April 4 municipal election.
The endorsements come after the village recently approved a union contract that included bringing paramedics back in house – something the union fought for since the village decided to privatize paramedic services in 1989. The village council approved the contract unanimously, but only Nero got the endorsement so far. Landgrebe made investing in the police and fire departments, including addressing pension obligations, one of the major planks of his campaign platform.
Local 2753 didn’t elaborate on why they made their endorsements on their social media accounts. They did not respond to a request for comment by deadline.
When asked how he feels about the endorsement, Hoskins said that he accepted their endorsement and declined to elaborate any further. Nero didn’t respond to a request for comment by deadline.
Landgrebe announced his endorsement during his Feb. 8 campaign kickoff fundraiser, which was held at Shanahan’s Bar, 7353 Madison St. He told the Review that he was honored to be endorsed, because first responders are “a very important aspect of our community.”
Landgrebe said he was endorsed because “they believe that I have a vision for the future.”
“I’m going to help them to secure the resources for the future of the firefighters,” he said, adding that it would include making sure they have “resources and equipment to do their jobs successfully, as well as tackling the pension funding shortfall.
“The firefighters are the first line of defense,” Landgrebe said. “They get people in the community on the worst days of their lives. I believe they need resources to do their jobs successfully, and I will endeavor to provide them with equipment, and the security of a pension.”
The state of the firefighter pensions, as well as equipment and staffing shortages, has been an ongoing concern for the union. During the Dec. 3, 2022 meeting of the Altenheim Committee, which was assembled to advise the village on the future uses of the village-owned portion of the historic retirement community property, a group of firefighters argued that any future use should generate revenue to help address the staffing shortfalls and deferred maintenance backlog.
Under the union contract approved on Jan. 9, which is retroactive to May 1, 2022 and will expire on April 30, 2026, Forest Park agreed to hire three firefighter/paramedics by May 1, and then one firefighter/paramedic a year until April 30, 2026. Village Administrator Moses Amidei told the Review at the time that their ambulance staffing contractor, Metro Paramedic Services, had trouble recruiting enough personal to fill all the shifts in recent years, forcing the union firefighters, most of whom are already trained as either paramedics or emergency medical technicians, to work overtime to pick up the slack.