Two weeks after being fired by East Dundee Village President Jeff Lynam, Jennifer Johnsen was reinstated as village administrator on Monday after a board vote of 5-1.
When the vote was finished, with only Trustee Rich Treiber voting against the motion, Johnsen got up from her seat in the audience and reclaimed her seat with the board. Johnsen even added input on the remaining agenda items.
“I was fortunate to have the support of the village board, and I’m thrilled to be restored to my position so I can continue to serve the residents of East Dundee like I’ve been doing the last five years,” Johnsen said after the meeting.
Lynam fired Johnsen – who acknowledged in a staff email that she was in a relationship with Assistant Village Administrator Brad Mitchell – before the June 7 board meeting. At that meeting was an agenda item to discuss Johnsen’s expiring contract, but instead she was fired despite protests from trustees who said they weren’t consulted on the decision.
At Monday’s meeting, Lynam asked the board to delay the reinstatement because of pending investigations by the Illinois County Risk Management Trust, the village’s liability insurance carrier and the Illinois City and County Management Association regarding Johnsen’s actions. Lynam also mentioned pending litigation from Johnsen against the village, but Johnsen said she hasn’t retained an attorney and doesn’t plan to retain one.
Lynam planned to publicly list the reasons for firing Johnsen at last Monday’s meeting, but the board blocked Lynam and forced him to list the reasons privately in executive session.
“I stand by what I did, absolutely and 100 percent, and I’d do it again,” Lynam said after Monday’s meeting. “I don’t know what will happen. Instead of letting the public make the decisions for themselves, [the board] took that away and went ahead and brought her back.”
Lynam said Mitchell declined to take on the duties of village administrator after Johnsen’s firing. Lynam has been filling the role.
Johnsen and Lynam both said Mitchell still works for the village, although Johnsen said the goal is for one of them to find employment elsewhere. According to Johnsen’s email to staff, Johnsen and Mitchell are expecting a baby in October and plan to marry.
“At the end of the day, this is exactly where I wanted to be and I communicated that to the board on multiple occasions,” Johnsen said. “[Mitchell and I] would like to have different career paths, and I believe [Mitchell] understands East Dundee is the place for me.”