John Ostenburg "Happy Buddha"John Ostenburg has served the residents of Park Forest as a Village Trustee, as a State Representative, and as Mayor. He knows our town!

During his 16-year tenure as mayor, John Ostenburg has led the Village in obtaining millions of dollars – over one three-year period, nearly $30 million – in grants and other funding for improvements to roads and other infrastructure.

Mayor Ostenburg sees one of his roles as “door opener” for Village staff to use its expertise to obtain federal, state, county, and other funding for important projects. With 25 years in elected posts – as trustee, mayor, and state representative – he has contacts with key players at national, state and local levels.
Nationally, he serves on two National League of Cities subgroups: the Community & Economic Development Committee and the First-Tier Suburbs Council; at the state level, on the Illinois Municipal League’s Land Acquisitions Committee; regionally, on the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus Executive Board, as co-chairperson of the Environment Committee and member of the Housing & Community Development Committee; and locally on the South Suburban Mayors & Managers Association Executive Board and member of the Legislative Committee. That experience is invaluable!
“My involvement with these bodies and my government experience are major assets in getting requests for funding and other assistance heard. We have excellent staff members, but their work is made easier when I can help cut through the bureaucracy.”

Mayor Ostenburg said years of planning finally are paying off in attracting new business to Park Forest. “We realized long ago that we must be strategic in attracting businesses,” he said. “It doesn’t benefit the community to have businesses that don’t succeed.” He noted Dollar General, County Squire Foods, the Sapphire Room, and Dunagain’s Irish Pub, as examples of successful new businesses in Park Forest.

For the future, Mayor Ostenburg lists his priorities as

  • continued economic development,
  • improving water and sewer infrastructure, 
  • housing issues, especially regarding foreclosures and abandonment,
  • job training, and
  • property-tax reform.

Leadership Keeping Park Foresters Informed

Mayor John Ostenburg’s personal engagement has been a key element in the success Park Forest has enjoyed in obtaining federal, state, and county grants for a number of key projects. Those projects have included road and street improvements, housing renovations and removals where necessary, water and sewer issues, etc. That success is unprecedented within our south suburban region. His reputation as a longtime respected regional leader is invaluable to the success of Park Forest in these and other endeavors.

Mayor John Ostenburg’s leadership has been widely recognized by his associates and colleagues within various levels of government.

  • He has been selected by his colleague mayors to serve in key leadership roles within the South Suburban Mayors & Managers Association, where he has served on the Executive Board for a number of years and currently serves as the organization’s treasurer. He serves on the SSMMA Legislative Committee and is the organization’s official liaison to the Chicago Southland Housing & Community Development Collaborative and to the Cook County Health Advisory Council. He also is one of two SSMMA representatives on the Executive Board of the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus.
  • Mayor Ostenburg was selected by Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle in 2013 as one of 15 directors – including only two other mayors – to serve on the Cook County Land Bank Authority and was selected by his colleagues on that body to serve as Secretary. The CCLBA plays a crucial role in dealing with the aftermath of the 2008-09 fiscal crisis that hit our region.
  • In 2009, Mayor John A. Ostenburg was the recipient of the Diversity 2009 Award from Diversity, Inc., “In Recognition of Exceptional Leadership on Issues of Diversity, Unity, and Equality in the Chicago Southland.” 
  • In 2003, he was selected to serve as vice-chairperson of the Abraham Lincoln National Airport Commission, the body that kept the concept of a south suburban airport alive for the 10 years leading up to the landmark legislation that brought the airport project to fruition.
  • As a freshman legislator in the early 1990s, John Ostenburg was selected to serve as chairperson for the Speaker’s Task Force on Children, an important legislative body that looked at issues relating to children statewide and made recommendations on ways to provide better child-related services.
It’s because of his leadership that Mayor John A. Ostenburg has been endorsed by Congresswoman Robin Kelly, State Senator Toi Hutchinson, State Representatives Anthony DeLuca and Al Riley, former State Representative Terry Steczo, and former Park Forest Mayors Ron Bean, Jerry Mathews, and Pat Kelly.
John Ostenburg addresses the housing crisis, caused by big banks

Park Forest didn’t cause the nation’s housing crisis…big banks and poor lending practices did! As a result of that crisis, Thousands of homes in the South Suburbs went into foreclosure, including more than 700 in Park Forest! But Park Forest Mayor John A. Ostenburg is part of the solution:

  • Under his leadership, Park Forest was one of three communities establishing the South Suburban Land Bank & Development Authority, which has been a key force in getting properties back onto the tax rolls. Today, 13 towns have joined the SSLBDA and it’s growing!
  • Because he’s a leader in housing issues, Mayor Ostenburg was selected by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle as one of 15 persons to serve on the Cook County Land Bank Authority, another key body in helping to solve the foreclosure problem.
  • Under Mayor Ostenburg’s direction, Park Forest has collaborated with Habitat for Humanity, the Illinois Housing Development Authority, and other key players, to rehab foreclosed homes in Park Forest so they once again can be occupied and get back on the tax rolls.
  • With grant money that Mayor Ostenburg has helped to gain, Park Forest has removed more than 70 structures that had fallen into such disrepair as to be uninhabitable and were a blight on local neighborhoods. Developers are being sought for new houses on these sites.

Professional Experience

In addition to his 25 years in government, Mayor John A. Ostenburg has enjoyed a professional and management career that has well prepared him for his tenure as leader of the Village of Park Forest.

A educator by training, he has been a classroom teacher at grade school, high school, community college, and university levels, in both public and private schools. In addition to his teaching, his administrative experience has been extensive.

  • Lewis University – Director of Alumni Affairs, Sports Information Director.

Created a variety of publications to keep alumni informed and to assist in fundraising. Was Sports Information Director at time of three back-to-back national baseball championships.

  • Prairie State College – Director of Community Relations, Executive Director of the College Foundation.

Moved the College Foundation from a concept to a reality, setting the stage for increasing success at fundraising over the subsequent years.

  • Governors State University – Director of University Relations.

Was responsible for all university public relations and communications at a time when GSU was termed “The Fastest Growing University in Illinois.”

  • Chicago Teachers Union – Award-winning Editor of the Chicago Union Teacher, Chairperson of the Communications Department, Legislative Director, Chief of Staff.

Served under three different Presidents, gaining promotions along the way, and ultimately, as Chief of Staff, playing a leadership role in moving the organization out of debt and into fiscal stability. During his tenure with what then was a 40,000-member organization, good contracts were negotiated and labor unrest was at a minimum with no strikes occurring.


For more than 30 years, Mayor John A. Ostenburg has been selected by his neighbors to serve as one of five directors of the Birch Street Townhomes Cooperative Corporation. His knowledge of cooperative housing issues is extensive and he has written articles for the Cooperative Housing Bulletin and has been a workshop presenter for annual conferences of the National Association of Housing Cooperatives on a number of occasions.

In addition to his experience within the cooperative housing movement, he also has been recognized as a respected expert in other areas of housing. He twice has been a panelist on programs of the Brookings Institution with the authors of the widely respected study and book Confronting Suburban Poverty in America, dealing with specifics of how the national housing crisis affects the overall economic well-being of communities.

John Ostenburg with seniors


Not long after first being elected to his first term, Mayor John Ostenburg established the Senior Citizens Advisory Commission and the Youth Commission in order to better understand the needs of both older and younger residents of the Village of Park Forest. He also converted the temporary Recreation & Parks Advisory Board to permanent status in order to provide better community input on maintenance and operation of facilities and programs designed to benefit the entire family. These bodies joined a number of existing advisory board and commissions in allowing more than 100 Park Forest residents the chance to provide direct input to the Village Board on key issues. Most recently, Mayor Ostenburg has created a Veterans Commission in order to better meet the needs of Park Foresters who served in World War II, the Korean Conflict, the Vietnam Conflict, Desert Storm, and current military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria.

Doing the Work of the Village!

Mayor John A. Ostenburg joined a group of other south suburban municipal leaders on a recent visit to Washington, D.C., to lobby for funding for important projects in Park Forest and the region.

Senator Dick Durbin and Mayor John Ostenburg

Mayor John Ostenburg and local elected officials in Washington, D.C.

We need volunteers to

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John Ostenburg at Country Squire Grocery Store in Park Forest


For an extended period, Park Forest suffered from the lack of facilities for purchasing grocery and other household items.


Through the hard work of Mayor John Ostenburg and the Village staff, Park Foresters now have several outlets for purchase of food and related items, including the very recently opened Country Squire Foods. Other outlets selling food and household items include the South Suburban Food Co-op, Dollar General, Family Dollar, Seven-Eleven, and Golden Quick Mart. After years of Park Foresters having to travel elsewhere for food purchases, residents of other communities are coming to Park Forest to make those kinds of purchases.

Contact Mayor OstenburgContact us with your ideas for the future of Park Forest!

Please feel free to contact me with your questions and/or comments. Send your e-mail messages to me at JOstenburg@aol.com, or use the form below.

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Mayor John Ostenburg

Thanks for visiting Park Forest Mayor John A. Ostenburg’s website. No tax dollars are spent in preparation of this material or hosting of this website. The views expressed are those of Mayor John A. Ostenburg alone and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoints of other elected officials or professional staff of the Village of Park Forest, Illinois.

John & Jackie Ostenburg

Mayor Ostenburg with Washington officials

With grandchildren, Hilton Head Island, 2009

Early Voting

Early voting for residents of Cook County…

9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mondays through Saturdays
March 23 to April 4
Park Forest Village Hall
350 Victory Drive
Park Forest

Early voting for residents of Will County …

8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Mondays through Fridays
No Saturday Early Voting
March 23 to April 2

Crete Township Office
1367 Wood Street


10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays
9 a.m. to noon Saturdays
March 23 to April 2

Monee Village Hall
5130 W. Court St.

Mayor John Ostenburg and Congresswoman Robin Kelly

Mayor John Ostenburg is pleased to have the endorsement of Congresswoman Robin Kelly.

Photo Gallery



Below are archived videos, articles and pictures from Mayor Ostenburg.

Campaign Fundraiser 2011

Campaign Headquarters Grande Opening 2011

Addressing Team Hope 2011


Fundraiser 2011

Roy Dillard and Ostenburg Supporter

Headquarters Opening 2011

Roy Dillard and Vernard L. Alsberry Jr.

Park Forester Roy Dillard (left) chats with Hazel Crest Village Trustee Vernard Alsberry at Mayor Ostenburg's campaign headquarters.

Shelia Whorton and Mark

Candidate for School Board 227 Shelia Hester-Whorton chats with Mark Zaret. Both are Park Forest residents.