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Local News

Joliet may re-start city manager search

Mayor Bob O'Dekirk (left) and Councilman Pat Mudron at a Joliet City Council meeting earlier this month..
Mayor Bob O'Dekirk (left) and Councilman Pat Mudron at a Joliet City Council meeting earlier this month..

City Council confusion over the city manager job continues.

The council now is considering other options than the two finalists that were up for the job until Tuesday night.

The decision to reconsider candidates was made after locking up current interim City Manager Steve Jones on a contract that should keep him in the job on a contractual basis once he retires on Feb. 29.

The council met in closed session to consider city manager candidates after an intense debate over the Jones contract, which was approved in open session and labeled "unethical" by Mayor Bob O'Dekirk.

"All I can say is the consensus from last night is that the council wants to look at more people," O'Dekirk said Wednesday.

"I wanted to make the selection," O'Dekirk said. "The consensus was to open it up and take another look."

The two finalists for the job were William Jones, city administrator in Mequon, Wisconsin, and Mark Rooney, town administrator in Westerly, Rhode Island.

O'Dekirk would not say whether the two finalists have been ruled out. But he said the Ad Hoc City Manager Search Committee will meet Friday to discuss what to do next.

The closed session meeting was to include a review of personality assessments that had been added to the process only after the council narrowed the search to two candidates.

The development is the latest twist in a process that goes back to October 2018, when David Hales, the last permanent city manager in place, left the job with a separation agreement in mid-contract.

The council fought over the mayor's attempt in May to award the job to City Attorney Marty Shanahan, who took over as interim city manager after Hales' departure. It was Shanahan's second time serving as interim city manager.

A five-member council majority wanted to open up the job to candidates and removed Shanahan from the interim city manager position in June, starting a search process that has no end date at this point.

One council member, Larry Hug, did not join his colleagues in the closed session to discuss finalists, expressing his frustration with the process.

"You guys have wasted enough of my time," Hug said as he announced he would go home instead. "It's time to do you know what or get off the pot."

Hug, Jan Quillman and Terry Morris are part of a council minority that backed the mayor's proposal to make Shanahan the permanent city manager.

Pat Mudron, Michael Turk, Sherri Reardon, Bettye Gavin and Don Dickinson all voted to remove Shanahan and pushed for the candidate search.

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