News - Joliet and Will County

Joliet council candidate faces accusations at public meeting

JOLIET – Two City Council members running for re-election on April 4 criticized one of their opponents Tuesday in an episode that at least bordered on politicking at a council meeting.

Their remarks followed a statement made by the leader of one of the city’s police unions accusing Rachel Ventura, who is not on the council now and is not among the candidates endorsed by the union, of endangering police with a campaign mailing sent to their homes.

Michael DeVito, president of the patrol officers union, called for an investigation into how Ventura obtained a list of police officers’ home addresses.

“I would ask Ms. Ventura to come forward and apologize for endangering the lives of our police officers and their families,” DeVito said.

Ventura, who was at the meeting to speak on another matter, did explain once she was allowed to speak.

But first, Mayor Bob O’Dekirk announced that the city’s inspector general and police chief are looking into the matter.

Councilwoman Jan Quillman, who is running for re-election, then said that as the wife of a retired Joliet police officer she agreed that the list was inappropriate and added that she has never had such a list.

Once Ventura spoke, however, she said that she obtained the addresses herself by looking at public records, including those posted on the city’s website listing the names of Joliet police officers along with county clerk rolls listing the addresses of voters in city elections.

“I then compared the names on the voter records to the names of our police officers,” Ventura told the council. She noted that there were about 70 police officers whose names she could not find, perhaps because they did not live in the city.

Ventura later told The Herald-News that she put together the mailing to respond to what she said were false statements made about her at a police union meeting.

“It was rumor squashing,” she said.

Ventura’s explanation during the meeting did not satisfy Councilwoman Brooke Hernandez Brewer, also running for re-election and the wife of a county deputy.

“Even putting together a list like that endangers the lives of our police officers,” Brewer told Ventura.

“How does it endanger anyone?” Ventura responded. “On the outside of the envelope it just had their name on it like it would any other resident.”

Both Brewer and Quillman have been endorsed by the city’s police unions, which have also endorsed Councilman Michael Turk. Turk was at the meeting, too, but did not comment on the matter. Neither did any other council member.

Only Brewer, Quillman and Turk, the three at-large council members, are running for re-election. Twelve other candidates are in the race.

DeVito after the meeting said he came forward in response to concerns brought to him by union members.

Ventura after the meeting met with the inspector general and police chief at the mayor’s request.

Bob Okon

Bob Okon

Bob Okon covers local government for The Herald-News