June 23, 2024
Local News

Okon: NorthPoint, East Gate and Kansas

Joliet City Council member Sherri Reardon is getting some heat from NorthPoint opponents for a $1,000 contribution she received from the company in her successful campaign to win office in April.

Reardon's was one of the crucial yes votes when the City Council voted, 5-4, on Tuesday to give NorthPoint Development the rezoning it wanted for 103 acres on the south end of Joliet. Many people speculate that NorthPoint will use the land to start something like the bigger 2,200-acre Compass Business Park it could not get annexed to Elwood.

Whether that happens or not, NorthPoint won’t comment on if it’s the plan. So it’s reasonable to be suspicious.

Reardon said people should not be suspicious about her yes vote in light of the campaign contribution.

“It was not on my mind,” she said of the campaign contribution and her vote for NorthPoint. “No one has ever made me feel obligated over a donation, and no one would ever make me feel obligated over a donation.”

The donation was not made in the name of NorthPoint.

It was made in the name of East Gate Logistics Park Chicago, a name NorthPoint used when applying for annexation in Elwood.

“I was not aware that was East Gate,” Reardon said.

And Reardon said she didn’t ask.

“I had absolutely no contact with this East Gate at all,” Reardon said, although she became aware of the connection when people started commenting about it on social media.

Reardon said she had only one contact with NorthPoint when she and other council members met individually with the developer’s representatives.

Reardon did not amass a large campaign chest in her run for council, which is one reason the $1,000 contribution from East Gate stands out.

She received an additional $1,000 contribution from International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150, which was among the building trades unions that backed the NorthPoint project.

Kansas connection

Another crucial yes vote for the NorthPoint project came from Mayor Bob O’Dekirk.

O’Dekirk doesn’t normally vote except to break a tie, which was the case on NorthPoint.

But before anyone voted, O’Dekirk reported on a phone conversation he had with the mayor of Edgerton, Kansas, where NorthPoint has a large industrial park comparable in size to what people think will eventually happen here.

“He called them ‘good corporate citizens.’ Again a quote, ‘They’re one of the best I’ve seen,’ ” was among the comments O’Dekirk reported from the mayor in Kansas.

Edgerton Mayor Donald Roberts made the news in early 2018 when his pay was increased from $40 a City Council meeting, or about $1,000 a year, to an annual salary of $90,000, according to the Kansas City Star.

Roberts was credited with working long hours, particularly on economic development in the community of 1,700 residents.

“He’s changed the face of this community,” the Edgerton city administrator told the Kansas City Star.

• Bob Okon is a longtime Herald-News reporter. He can be reached at 815-280-4121 or bokon@shawmedia.com.