ROMEOVILLE – Romeoville Mayor John Noak made no real comment Wednesday night, in his first board meeting since being arrested for driving under the influence last Thursday other than to say his lawyers advised him to refrain from discussing the matter.
“While I would like to discuss [the incident from last week], I have been instructed by my attorneys not to until my case is finalized,” Noak said at the beginning of the Village Board’s regular meeting Wednesday night. “I look forward to making a statement as soon as I can.”
Although Noak chose not to explain his part in the DUI incident, which occurred hours after he gave his State of the Village address, other village officials voiced support for him and his leadership.
Chairman of the Planning and Zoning Commission, David Venn, passionately spoke in support of the mayor and denounced his critics during the public comments portion of the meeting.
“I’ve known Mayor Noak for about eight years, and in that time, I found him to be a great family man, a shrewd negotiator and a public servant who has always put the best interest of this community at the heart of his life,” Venn said.
“To the few people in this community that use social media to gossip for their own political gain and the few people that would use one transgression to negate decades of service to Romeoville, I say the shame is on you,” he said. “You few individuals are a poor representative of your faith and a poor representative of this community.”
“You are an engaging leader. ... You have the heart for our community, and you have the heart for the people that may not always say the nicest things about you,” said Rick Gougis, former Valley View 365U School District vice president.
“I wanted to let you know that the thing that gets me the most is that my children when they see you get excited. … They look up to you, and I appreciate that,” Gougis said.
Gougis said after the meeting that once he heard of the DUI incident he decided to come to the meeting to support Noak, who was a mentor for him when he first was elected to the school board. He added that he had no opinion about Noak’s DUI arrest.
The mayor had a critic in the house, as well. Tomasz Suliga, a community activist, told the board he received a letter from the Illinois branch of the Mothers Against Drunk Driving organization, criticizing Noak’s behavior.
“As an organization whose mission is to prevent drunk and drugged driving, prevent underage drinking and to provide services to victims of impaired driving, we feel this arrest reflects poorly on the actions of an elected official who was hired to serve and protect the community,” the letter stated.
Suliga commended the “very brave police officer” who arrested Noak.
“This must have been a really tough situation for that person when he discovered who he was pulling over. … Yet he did everything by the book and showed all of us that no one is above the law,” he said.
Finally, Suliga called upon the trustees “to put this nightmare behind us and move on, because truly nothing short of the mayor’s resignation should be accepted.”
The trustees that did comment, however, only voiced support for the mayor.
Trustees Dave Richards and Lourdes Aguirre were the only trustees of the four present to address the incident at the end of the meeting.
Richards said the mayor’s behavior was “a personal issue” that both the village and Noak would work through.
“His leadership and the job he’s done in leading this village – my view of that has not changed. … I hope the residents are willing to let him work through his personal issues,” Richards said.
“We will get through this, and I so appreciate and admire your leadership, but mainly I admire your character,” Aguirre said.
After the meeting, when asked about Suliga’s request that he resign, Noak again said he could not comment, but that he would “continue to do the good work we are doing here in our community with our board, our staff and our great team.”
Police Chief Mark Turvey said after the meeting that because Noak refused to take a breath test during the arrest, there is no record of his blood alcohol concentration.
Turvey also said he knew of no previous drunk driving charges, and a first offense is considered a misdemeanor, which typically results in some type of court-ordered supervision and a fine, Turvey said. The driver’s license of the offender may be suspended, he said.