JOLIET – Bettye Gavin, director of Park Forest Community Center, was named District 4 councilwoman by the Joliet City Council.
Gavin’s nomination by Mayor Tom Giarrante was unanimously approved by the council, despite criticism by some members of the mayor’s selection process.
“This is amazing, absolutely amazing,” Gavin told the council. “I take this position very seriously. We have much to do for a better Joliet and I look forward to the challenge.”
Gavin replaces Susie Barber, who resigned from the council in March after missing about six months of meetings because of illness.
The selection of Gavin drew accolades from all of the council, although councilmen Larry Hug, Terry Morris and Bob O’Dekirk expressed concerns about the mayor’s selection process.
Hug accused Giarrante of leaking news of the nomination selection, both to members of the community and a group of area ministers, before informing the council of his appointment selection Tuesday night. Hug also criticized the mayor for not allowing the community to be more involved in the process.
“Everyone had a chance to apply,” Giarrante said. “As far as community involvement, I received a lot of phone calls that I took into consideration.”
Giarrante said he interviewed all eight people who applied for the position. He said he declined to interview one candidate who waited until Monday to apply.
“One thing that weighed heavy on my mind is [finding] a person who is involved in the neighborhood and who does a great job,” Giarrante said.
Hug accused Giarrante of using “your usual cloak-and-dagger” tactics in the nomination process.
“Even a broken clock is right twice a day,” Hug said, challenging Giarrante for not being more open with council members.
“Do you want me to tell you the truth? I don’t trust some people on this council not to let things out of the box,” Giarrante said, referring to purported information leak from a city council executive session earlier this year. The matter was put before the Will County State’s Attorney’s office for investigation, but so far no action has been taken.
“I would hope you would always tell the truth,” Hug replied. “That’s a huge accusation to make against this council.”
Gavin’s selection drew universal praise from council members.
The District 4 seat will be up for election in the April 7, 2015, general election.
• This story has been corrected from its initial publication. The name of council member Jim McFarland was removed from the following sentence: "The selection of Gavin drew accolades from all of the council, although councilmen Larry Hug, Terry Morris and Bob O’Dekirk expressed concerns about the mayor’s selection process." McFarland's only comment was to congratulate Gavin for her appointment. The Herald-News regrets the error.