Interim City Manager Martin Shanahan was relieved of his duties Tuesday and got a standing ovation when he said he plans to apply for the job.
Meanwhile, the Joliet City Council plans to meet Monday to discuss bringing back former City Manager Jim Hock on an interim basis before doing a candidate search.
The developments Tuesday raised warnings of “council wars” in Joliet among council members because of the deep division over keeping Shanahan on the job.
Shanahan, who will remain on staff as city attorney, said he plans to seek the job.
“I embrace the challenge of the upcoming interview process, whatever it may be,” Shanahan said after the City Council voted, 5-3, to relieve him of his duties as interim city manager, a job Shanahan has performed twice and has been doing for the past eight months.
A crowd that gathered in the council chambers to support Shanahan rose to a standing ovation when he said he would seek the job.
Deputy City Manager Steve Jones, meanwhile, immediately will step in as interim city manager – at least for now.
It’s not clear how long Jones will fill in or whether Hock will return on a temporary basis.
“I talked to him this morning,” council member Pat Mudron said when asked by other council members whether Hock was interested in coming back.
It was not clear who knew Mudron had solicited Hock for the job. Hock retired in May 2016, leading to Shanahan filling in the first time as interim city manager.
Voting for Shanahan’s removal were Mudron, Michael Turk, Don Dickinson, Bettye Gavin and Sherri Reardon.
Voting against his removal were Larry Hug, Jan Quillman and Terry Morrison.
Mayor Bob O’Dekirk, who typically votes to break a tie, did not vote but has made clear that he believes Shanahan should be promoted to city manager on a permanent basis.
O’Dekirk read a list of Shanahan’s achievements that he said have saved the city between $7 million and $10 million, while pointing out a Waste Management contract that the mayor said will have saved the city $50 million over 10 years.
Mudron and two of the other council members who voted for Shanahan’s removal did not say why they took the action.
Turk said he explained his reasons to fellow council members during a closed session on the matter Monday.
“I’m not going to discuss personnel issues in public,” Turk said. “It’s not fair. It’s not proper.”
Gavin said her vote was not against Shanahan but to open up the job for a candidate search.
“If Marty rises up above everyone, that’s fine with me,” Gavin said. “But I want the best-qualified person to sit in that seat for the third-largest city in Illinois.”
O’Dekirk and other council members, however, questioned whether the removal of Shanahan was needed to do a candidate search.
Larry Hug said council members who wanted the candidate search to begin should have pressed the issue.
“It’s not the staff’s responsibility. It’s ours,” Hug said. “If you felt they were moving too slow, why didn’t you kick it up a notch?”
Jan Quillman unsuccessfully tried to table the vote on Shanahan’s removal, saying it “makes us look stupid that we can’t come to a consensus.”
Although Mudron did not explain his reasons for seeking Shanahan’s removal at the council meeting, he told The Herald-News last week that it was being done because of inaction on a candidate search.
Several people who attended the meeting spoke on behalf of Shanahan.
Joseph Gilles said he has known Shanahan for more than 20 years and believed he has shown his ability to do the job.
“With all the growth and all the development, I think it’s important that we have someone at the helm who has the experience and the know-how to get the job done,” Gilles said.
Bernie Spieler, former president of the St. Patrick’s Neighborhood Association, said the city would “save a lot of money” by keeping Shanahan on the job.