JOLIET – Councilman Jim McFarland, who was charged recently with a DUI and is facing potential reprimand for last year's envelope controversy, notified the city Friday that he will resign at the end of this month.
McFarland's at-large council position is up for election in April. McFarland sent the city manager a letter Friday afternoon saying his resignation is effective midnight Sept. 30.
He said he is resigning "due to my family's relocation to a different community."
McFarland did not say in the letter where he is going. He did not return calls for comment. He did respond to an email saying only, "I'm moving to Rockdale," and later added in a text message that his business was staying on Essington Road in Joliet.
McFarland resignation rumors have come and gone at times for nearly a year.
"This did not come out of left field," Mayor Bob O'Dekirk said.
O'Dekirk said he last talked with McFarland about a possible resignation about a month ago as the council was reviewing potential actions concerning the envelope matter. But he also had been told that McFarland would resign after the city referred the matter to the Will County State's Attorney for investigation last November.
The sale of McFarland's house generated another wave of speculation, although there were also rumors that he was moving to another neighborhood in Joliet.
"I've heard six different stories the last few weeks," O'Dekirk said.
McFarland is scheduled to be in court Sept. 30 for a hearing on the DUI charge. McFarland also faces a charge of speeding after he was stopped by a state trooper on July 10; McFarland wrote in an email that a charge of driving without insurance has been dismissed.
The Will County State's Attorney's Office in June decided it would not pursue charges against McFarland for his use of city envelopes and a postage meter at the Forest Preserve District of Will County for mailings considered political. McFarland worked for the Forest Preserve District at the time but resigned later.
The City Council, which initially referred the matter to the state's attorney, and the city's inspector general have continued to review the matter for some kind of reprimand.
Councilman Pat Mudron said Friday that the letter has been written but has been rewritten with some council members concerned about specific language.
"That was still being worked on," Mudron said, adding that it was discussed at a closed session of the council this week. "It hasn't been done yet. I assume it's never going to be done now."
McFarland did not return a call Friday seeking comment. Instead he emailed his letter of resignation to The Herald-News, which had been provided earlier by City Manager Jim Hock.
In his letter emailed Friday afternoon to Hock, McFarland writes the he has "worked each day trying to make Joliet a better place to live, work and visit."
The bulk of a letter is a list of 15 items that McFarland says he has accomplished in his one term of office, some of which he initiated and others that he supported. They included the adoption of the "Cupcake Law" to allow home baking for profit, creating and passing a "local purchasing" ordinance, proposing a puppy mill ordinance, initiating a citywide testing program for fire hydrants, and supporting the hire of additional officers for the neighborhood policing program.
O'Dekirk said he plans to appoint someone to fill McFarland's seat and would not leave the position open until the April election.
"I'm going to want someone as soon as possible, because we have some big issues coming, including the budget," he said.
The mayor has the authority to appoint replacements to fill vacant council seats, but the appointment goes to the City Council for approval.
Councilman John Gerl was appointed to his position five months before an election, when the late Councilman Anthony Uremovic resigned in the last months of his term.
"I think it would be appropriate to appoint somebody," Gerl said of McFarland's vacancy. "The ordinance calls for three at-large and there's only two. I think it would be appropriate for the mayor to appoint someone, but that's his decision."