JOLIET – Councilman Jim McFarland gave up his seat Monday, 11 days ahead of schedule, as questions were raised at to whether he had sufficient legal residency to vote at the Tuesday meeting.
McFarland gave notice on Sept. 9 that he was resigning at the end of the month because his family was moving out of town.
But at the end of the Monday workshop meeting, which included a nearly half-hour closed session earlier in which McFarland’s resignation was discussed, the councilman announced he was giving up his seat as of midnight.
The resignation came ahead of the Tuesday regular meeting when votes are cast, and city officials last week said that McFarland would have to be living in Joliet to vote.
McFarland said he was leaving office to speed up the process of his replacement.
“Basically, sitting in this seat I’m a lame duck,” he said. “We have a lot of issues where we have to get someone up here to hit the ground running,”
After the meeting, McFarland acknowledged that his resignation was discussed in the closed session but said it was mainly a question of when he was leaving and nothing was said to compel his decision to quit Monday.
McFarland has sold his house in Joliet and is in the process of moving to Frankfort. But he said he is renting a house in Joliet until he moves.
Councilman Pat Mudron when asked about the closed session, however, said McFarland’s legal place of residence was questioned and noted that the council vacancy was on the agenda for the Tuesday meeting.
“If it went to tomorrow, it was on the agenda,” Mudron said. “I think we as a council would have a vote on where we think he did or didn’t live.”
McFarland said after the meeting that his resignation “is an opportunity for the mayor to pick a new person tomorrow.”
But O’Dekirk said he will not make an appointment on Tuesday. That would mean, barring a special meeting, the earliest McFarland’s replacement could be chosen named is Oct. 4.
Several council members wished McFarland well in comments at the meeting.
“We tackled some really tough issues,” O’Dekirk said. “In the three and a half years you’ve been on the council, there’s been some change for the better.”
McFarland announced at the meeting that he is moving to Frankfort so his wife could be closer to Chicago, where she works.
“That way,” he said, “my wife can get to the train, and it cuts 40 minutes each way to and from.”