Joliet City Council Member Pat Mudron compared council conflicts to family disputes at a candidates’ forum held the day after the council met to consider allegations that he participated in a conspiracy against the mayor.
The forum on Tuesday was for the four council candidates in District 2, which also include Quinn Adamowski, Robert Wunderlich, and Glenda Wright-McCullum.
“We the City Council are a family,” Mudron said. “Like all of you who have family, you’re not always going to get along.”
His comments came after a question concerning “an appearance that the current city government is experiencing some internal issues.”
“I don’t think it’s an appearance. I think it’s a reality,” Adamowski said in addressing the question.
Adamowski went on to say that the most important issue facing the council is “recruiting and hiring an executive.”
After the forum, Adamowski confirmed that he is calling for a search for a new city manager.
“It’s on my walk card,” he said, referring to the card he hands out when campaigning, which lists goals that include, “Recruit and hire a professional city manager.”
City manager disputes have been at the center of some of the most fierce council clashes. Mudron was among those who wanted the city to recruit a city manager with municipal experience before a change in the council majority led to the hiring of current City Manager James Capparelli.
Capparelli, whose hiring was supported by Mayor Bob O’Dekirk, was a private attorney in Joliet before being hired as city manager. Supporters, however, pointed to his leadership positions in the Army and at the Pentagon as qualifications for the top management job in the city.
Capparelli, hired in January 2021 on a one-year contract, is currently working under a six-month contract that expires in July, meaning his future likely depends on the outcome of the April 4 election.
The future of the city manager was not a question at the forum for the April 4 city election.
“What the city needs now at the mayor and council positions is communication,” Wunderlich said in response to the question on internal issues in city government.
“As a fresh voice, I have no ties to any of the current issues,” Wright-McCullum said, adding that “a council divided will not progress.”
The council in a special meeting on Monday heard from the city Inspector General Sean Connolly who recommended that Mudron be reprimanded and censured for his part in what Connolly contended was a conspiracy to discredit the mayor.
The council did not vote on the matter, but all but one said they would not vote on censure based on what was in the inspector general’s report.
Mudron is seeking his third term on the council.
“I think if (people) look at my voting record, they will see I understand the subject,” Mudron said. “I do my homework. I don’t vote in a bloc.”
Adamowski pointed to his leadership experience at the Joliet Area Historical Museum and clean-up efforts in the reopening of the Old Joliet Prison as well as his position as regional advocacy manager for Landmarks Illinois.
“I think I can bring my leadership ability that I’ve shown since being involved to the council,” he said.
Wright-McCullum is chairwoman at the Housing Authority of Joliet and said she has over 30 years of experience in public ministry.
“I’ve been really interested in the community to bring about change in the city I love so much,” she said.
Wunderlich, a retired construction contractor, had been on the board at Joliet Junior College for 44 years before leaving to run unsuccessfully for City Council two years ago. He currently is a member of the Joliet Plan Commission.
“Joliet is the best place to be,” he said in his closing statement. “I believe in Joliet.”