Forest Park Firefighters Local 2753, the labor union representing rank-and-file village firefighters, wrapped up its endorsements last week, endorsing incumbent mayor Rory Hoskins, all incumbent village commissioners running for reelection and two out of three new candidates.

The Review previously reported the Hoskins endorsement, as well as the union’s endorsements of incumbent commissioner Ryan Nero and first-time candidate Joe Landgrebe. After the March 8 issue went to print, Travis Myers, who heads Local 2753 political committee, reached out to confirm a few more candidates and talk about the union’s endorsement process.

Myers said firefighters surveyed all mayoral and village commissioner candidates and graded them based on the responses. He declined to elaborate on the scoring system and why mayoral challenger John Doss and commissioner candidate Ryan Russ, who previously ran for village commissioner in 2019, weren’t endorsed. But he said that, broadly, they looked at where the candidate stood on staffing, firehouse maintenance, addressing pension backlog “and a few other issues.” 

Myers emphasized that the union will work with whoever ends up winning. 

“We look forward to working with whoever is elected,” he said. “We can work together with everyone.”

The state of the firehouse, as well as staffing pressures amid the growing number of calls, have been ongoing concerns for village firefighters. Last year, the village used $125,000 in American Rescue Plan Act federal stimulus money to repair the fire station roof, and they are planning to use $90,000 in Rebuild Illinois funds to replace the fire station windows. 

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 the contract expires.

Hoskins has been taciturn about getting the endorsement, saying that he accepted it and declining to comment further. Doss didn’t have a comment as of this issue’s deadline. 

On the village council end, aside from Nero and Landgrebe, the firefighters endorsed commissioner Jessica Voogd, first-time candidate Michelle Melin-Rogovin and commissioner Maria Maxham, who was appointed to the council in July 2021 and is running for the seat for the first time. The top four vote-getters will get the seats. 

Russ said he didn’t have anything to say about not getting the endorsement.

“It is what it is,” he said.

Nero got the union endorsement when he first can for village commissioner in 2019, and he told the Review that he was happy and excited to get it again.

Maxham said that she was honored by the endorsement. 

“First-responders, both the firefighters and the police, have been an important part of this town,” she said, adding that she tried to give them the resources they needed since she was appointed commissioner, and that continuig to do so “is a priorty for me.”

When reached by the Review, Melin-Rogovin referred the Review to a statement posted March 5 on her campaign Facebook page. In it, she reflected that first-responders “helped me care for my husband in our darkest days and gave me more time with him.”

“Proud to receive the endorsement of the [Local 2753] Forest Park firefighters and ambulance services as I seek to serve our village as a commissioner in 2023,” Melin-Rogovin wrote. “I am dedicated to addressing our pension obligations to them with our mayor and village council.”

Voogd said she was honored to get the endorsement.

“As a proud union member for 12 years, I understand the importance of having highly skilled, well-trained professionals on the job,” she said. “Forest Park has an amazing fire department. I have been and remain committed to ensuring they have the team and resources that they need to continue providing our community with such exceptional service.”