By Nona Tepper
A village electoral board official is in business with the man who submitted questions for the upcoming election ballot, posing a potential conflict of interest in the debate over video gaming in Forest Park.
Commissioner Thomas Mannix, who serves on the Forest Park electoral board, operates Mite Limited Corporation with Mark Hosty, according to a filing with the Illinois Secretary of State. The filing lists Thomas "Mannik" as being the secretary in a corporation with Hosty, who serves as president. Mannix confirmed Monday that he is a partial owner of Mite Limited Corporation.
"I do not allow my relationships with any[one] to interfere with my duties as a village Commissioner, one of which is to hear cases as a member of the electoral board. I intend to do my duty fairly and impartially," Mannix wrote in an email Monday to the Forest Park Review.
Mannix added: "The legal standard for a conflict of interest is that an electoral board member would need to have a direct personal or financial interest in the outcome of the case, and I am nowhere near to having either." He added: "Neither I, nor Mite, nor any other business I am affiliated with has an interest in any business entity that either currently has or is seeking a license for liquor or gaming."
Hosty, a former village commissioner, did not immediately respond to interview requests about whether his partnership with Mannix presented a conflict of interest in the debate over electronic gambling in Forest Park.
Started in 2013, Mite Limited Corporation renovates buildings for sale or rent. Mite's listed address is 350 Circle Ave. Ste. 200, the site of Constituent Outreach Consultants, a political communications firm; American Strategies, a political strategy, campaign management and public relations firm; and houses Healy's Westside, a local bar. Mannix is the head of American Strategies; Hosty is the general manager of Healy's Westside.
Mayor Anthony Calderone, another of the three members of the electoral board, did not immediately respond to an interview request about whether Hosty and Mannix's business partnership presented a conflict of interest in the electoral board's deliberations.
"Mark Hosty is not the proponent or opponent to the ballot access objection filed against the gaming issue referendum," Mannix wrote in an email.
But nearly two years ago, Hosty submitted three questions for the upcoming March ballot.
Only three questions are allowed on any ballot, and political action committee Let Forest Park Vote on Video Gaming wants to submit a binding referendum on video gaming for the upcoming ballot. Let Forest Park Vote questions the timeliness of the questions submitted by Hosty, now a River Forest resident. If Let Forest Park Vote is successful in getting its question on the March ballot, and residents vote against the practice, electronic gambling will be outlawed in the village.
The Forest Park electoral board consists of Calderone, Village Clerk Vanessa Moritz and Mannix. The three will decide whether signatures collected by Let Forest Park Vote are valid. The next hearing on video gaming is scheduled Tuesday, Jan. 23 at 10 a.m. at Forest Park Village Hall, 517 Desplaines Ave.
"If someone would like to make a motion to the Cook County Clerk or the Circuit Court to have me disqualified they are welcome to do so. But that request will fail because it has no basis in either fact, law or reality," Mannix emailed.
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