A contentious Yorkville City Council vote ended with one alderman leaving the meeting as a majority of council members sided with Mayor John Purcell’s efforts to replace three members of the Yorkville Public Library Board of Trustees.
Alderman approved on a 5-3 vote Purcell’s new appointees following objections from library officials and supporters during a meeting Tuesday, June 8.
The mayor had declined to reappoint three current trustees, citing bad relations with the city and school district in addition to talks of creating a library district as a taxing body independent from the city. The library board also voted to end talks with the city last month to relocate a parks department preschool to the library property, the latest flashpoint in poor ties between the city and its library that go back years.
“This is about having a good group we can work with,” Purcell told the city council, emphasizing that he was disappointed Library Board President Darren Crawford never reached out following the preschool vote.
But some alderman and library officials remained opposed to Purcell’s appointments.
Board President Crawford defended passed over trustees Jason Hedman and Wamecca Rodriguez, chalking the mayor’s efforts up to “cronyism.”
“What have Wamecca and Jason done to warrant their removal?” Crawford asked. “They have served above and beyond what has been required of the trustee position, and want to continue to serve as trustees to serve in the library’s best interest.”
Other city officials said the appointment process lacked transparency, and raised issue with the fact that one of the mayor’s appointments, Tara Schumacher, had yet to submit an application to the city, a typical but not required formality.
“Maybe there’s other people that have other qualifications,” Alderman Jackie Milschewski said, adding that no public notice was submitted for library trusteeships.
Purcell responded that he had reached out to nearly two dozen people in search of qualified candidates.
“I just disagree with your method,” Milschewski told him.
Milschewski and Aldermen Chris Funkhouser and Seaver Tarulis attempted to separate the library nominees from other appointments up for a vote Tuesday, yet their motion was voted down. The new library trustees include Bret Reifsteck, a mortgage loan officer, and educators Tara Schumacher and Sue Shimp.
Funkhouser, Milschewski and Tarulis all voted against the nominees.
Following the appointment vote, Tarulis left the council chambers not to return for the rest of the meeting.
“This whole process is retaliation for the library voting the way they did - the mayor’s told me that,” Tarulis said in the parking lot outside city hall, referring to the preschool negotiations. Tarulis’ son-in-law, Crawford, is the library board’s president.
“This is ridiculous,” Tarulis added. “So I can’t go along with it.”
At the meeting’s end, Crawford expressed regret over how the library negotiations played out, yet defended the library’s efforts to create its own district.