Dearth ready for new position with city

New Morris city attorney hopes for smooth transition

MORRIS – While Christopher Dearth was in law school, he had the opportunity to clerk for Grundy County Judges Robert Marsaglia and Lance Peterson and then was able to work for the Grundy County State’s Attorney’s office under then-State’s Attorney Sheldon Sobol, who is now a judge for the 13th Judicial Circuit.

After graduating from Western Michigan’s Thomas M. Cooley Law School in 2011, Dearth spent a few years in private practice a went to work with Morris City Attorney Scott Belt, who was sworn in Friday as the most recent judge in the 13th Judicial Circuit.

Dearth was appointed Jan. 4 as Belt’s replacement as Morris city attorney.

“I have worked with Scott on various municipal matters,” Dearth said. “He was a great mentor. It was a tremendous opportunity that I had to work with Scott. To see all the time, effort and diligence he puts into each municipal matter was amazing. His preparation is unmatched. I learned a tremendous amount from him.”

Dearth graduated from Coal City High School in 2003 and finished his undergraduate work at Eastern Illinois University in 2007 before beginning law school. He and his wife, Alyssa, live in Morris with their three children, all between the ages of 18 months and 5 years old.

From what Dearth has seen, the city attorney position involves a team effort, and he is happy with the team he is part of, he said.

“The city of Morris is very fortunate to have a mayor and aldermen that are a great team to work with,” he said. “They are well prepared and very knowledgeable about the projects or issues they bring to the city attorney. I am looking forward to continuing the good work they have done.

“I don’t have any kind of agenda. My role is to further the policies the City Council has as a whole. My goal as city attorney is to help the City Council facilitate these policies for the city of Morris.”

Dearth has seen firsthand the amount of work involved in multiple city matters, be they land development, annexation, infrastructure, etc.

“What the general public sees is a 20- to 30-minute City Council meeting and it all looks easy,” Dearth said. “Behind the scenes, there is tremendous time and effort put into these items by the city officials. When a matter comes before the City Council, all council members are well informed and prepared, and because of this, it makes for a more efficient government.”

Dearth said he wants to continue to play a part.

“I am excited to continue with the great progress and foundation that the mayor and City Council, through the assistance of Scott Belt, have laid,” he said. “And it’s reassuring to know that Mayor [Richard] Kopczick and the aldermen are around to help make my transition easier. There is a very good team in place for the city of Morris.”

Rob Oesterle

Rob Oesterle

Rob has been a sports writer for the Morris Herald-News and Joliet Herald-News for more than 20 years. He is currently also writing news for the Morris Herald-News.