JOLIET – City Manager Jim Hock plans to leave May 3. Hock informed the mayor and City Council members Thursday afternoon that he intends to retire.
“I’m surprised, but I’m not shocked,” Mayor Bob O’Dekirk said. “When his contract was up, he didn’t ask for a full extension.”
O’Dekirk also noted that Hock, who is in his 60s, has reached the age when he can retire.
“I did not think he was going to be here for my full term as mayor,” O’Dekirk said.
Hock did not return a call seeking comment. But O’Dekirk and council members said there were no issues with Hock’s work.
“There are so many good things happening that I’m kind of disappointed that he’s not going to see them through,” O’Dekirk said. “We’re definitely going to miss him.”
Hock was hired in November 2013 on a three-year contract. Council member Larry Hug said Hock’s contract contained an automatic extension until May, and the council likely would have renewed the contract.
“Nobody was in a hurry,” Hug said. “There was no indication that Jim was leaving. We figured we had time to do it by May.”
Hock told Hug that he and his wife had made the decision previously but did not want to announce it until after the election Tuesday so that his departure would not become a political issue.
“They didn’t tell anyone because they didn’t want it to be part of the election,” Hug said. “You know it would be turned into something different if it was announced before the election.”
Hug said Hock had told him that he will work with the city to help with the transition to a new city manager. He may stay on in some capacity after May 3, Hug said.
Council member Jan Quillman, too, said Hock did not want to announce his decision before the election.
“When I talked with him, he said it was a personal decision,” Quillman said. “He wanted to wait until after the election so no one would make anything political about it.”
Quillman and others said they were happy with Hock’s work as a city manager.
“He’s a good administrator and seemed to be fair,” council member John Gerl said. “His time here was productive. In fact, during his time here, we’ve seen a lot of growth.”
Hock’s three years have been busy ones, including the arrival of Amazon.com fulfillment centers, redevelopment downtown and an intergovernmental agreement created to build a toll bridge over the Des Plaines River.
“As the mayor has said, the city is on a real good roll,” council member Pat Mudron said.
Mudron said he did not know of any internal issues that would have prodded Hock’s departure.
“We would have renewed his contract,” council member Terry Morris said.