Chris Brown elected Morris mayor

Political newcomer will replace retiring Richard Kopczick

MORRIS – One lifelong Morris resident will hand the city’s reins over to another, as Chris Brown won the mayoral race in Tuesday’s consolidated election. Brown will take over the position from Richard Kopczick, who did not run for reelection after serving as the city’s mayor for 20 years and as an alderman for six.

Brown, a Republican, ran unopposed in the mayoral race and has been learning at Kopczick’s side, attending City Council meetings and picking the mayor’s brain.

“This is the first time I have run for office,” Brown said. “I have worked on a few campaigns before, but never my own. I am extremely excited to get started, but I know I have some awfully big shoes to fill.

“Dick [Kopczick] has really helped me out the last five or six months. We have been meeting a couple of days each week, going over all the things that are in the works. There’s a lot to do, but I hope to be able to hit the ground running. We have a great group of aldermen that do what is best for the city and the people that live in it.”

The only city race that was contested was for alderman in the 3rd Ward. According to unofficial totals, incumbent Derrick Wren, a Democrat, received 64% of the 95 votes cast, compared with challenger Kenneth Willis, who got 36%.

Republican Lori Werden, who is the current Grundy County treasurer, will step down from that post and take the job of the city clerk, while Republican Terri Kief will be the city treasurer, a position that had been vacant since the death of MaryBeth O’Brien in 2019.

Winners in the other aldermanic races were Herb Wyeth in the 1st Ward, Jake Duvick in the 1st Ward for a two-year term, Julian Houston in the 2nd Ward, Dean Tambling in the 2nd Ward for a two-year term and Sarah Mettille in the 4th Ward.

“I think we are going to be a great team,” Werden said. “We have been working for the last two years, and we want to do great things for the city. Better starts here.

“I definitely have some big shoes to fill. [Former City Clerk] Carol Adair did a great job.”

Kief, who owns The Thoughtful Spot on Washington Street, also has high hopes.

“Chris asked me if I would join his team,” she said. “I am rooted here. I was born here, have a business here and raised my kids here. I’m not going anywhere. I have connections with the downtown businesses, so we hope to help them out.”

Tambling will be a first-time alderman.

“I had thought about running several years ago, but it wasn’t the right time,” he said. “Now it is. I have lived in Morris for 27 years, and I covered a lot of City Council meetings and other news events when I was with the radio station.

“I want to thank Mayor Kopczick for his 20 years of service as mayor and his time as an alderman before that. I also want to thank Justin Olson for his time on the council. I am excited to be a part of the new administration, and I want my constituents to know that I will have an open line of communication. I want them to call me or email me if they have any concerns.”

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.