News - Joliet and Will County

Joliet council wants a city manager search consultant

Mayor Bob O'Dekirk listens to council member Terry Morris speak to interim City Manager Steve Jones on Tuesday at City Hall in Joliet.

The Joliet City Council has voted to start another city manager search amid criticism from the mayor that it was “asinine” not to have had somebody ready to fill the position months ago.

In the usual divided vote on city manager issues, the council voted, 5-3, to find a search firm to find a city manager.

Council members who voted to renew the search said it was important to find the right person for the job.

“This is the only job we the City Council hire,” council member Pat Mudron said. “We want to make sure we get the right candidate.”

Mudron noted no search firm was used in the last round when the city attracted 25 candidates and narrowed them down to two finalists before deciding to look again.

Mayor Bob O’Dekirk said a search firm is not likely to increase the candidate pool, saying the decision to remove City Attorney Martin Shanahan from the interim city manager job in June spoiled the field of potential applicants.

“To have no idea who was going to replace [Shanahan] was asinine,” O’Dekirk said. “I don’t know who would leave their community and come here to work after seeing what was done with Marty Shanahan.”

The city has been operating with interim city managers since David Hales left in October 2018 with a buyout in mid-contract after 11 months on the job.

The council has been at 5-3 odds over the future of the city manager job since May, when O’Dekirk and a three-member minority wanted to give the job to Shanahan, then serving as interim city manager, without advertising for candidates.

The 5-3 vote was repeated Tuesday, with Mudron, Don Dickinson, Bettye Gavin, Sherri Reardon and Michael Turk approving another city manager search. Larry Hug, Terry Morris and Jan Quillman voted against it.

The mayor typically does not vote other than to break a tie, but the three-member minority has consistently sided with O’Dekirk.

The vote on Tuesday directs staff to select a consulting firm to help in the search.

Interim City Manager Steve Jones said staff will review consultants and come back to the City Council with a recommendation in two weeks.

It could be another five or six months before the council is interviewing finalists, based on the last city manager search, a process that started in September.

Jones has been interim city manager since Shanahan was removed from the position and returned to his job as city attorney. He retired as an employee at the end of February and is now working on a contract, which also was controversial and approved in a 5-3 vote.

Bob Okon

Bob Okon

Bob Okon covers local government for The Herald-News