New Mayor Terry D’Arcy promises a Joliet ‘we can all be proud of’

Cardenas and Ibarra join City Council

New Joliet Mayor Terry D’Arcy took office Monday, and now-former Mayor Bob O’Dekirk left but not quietly.

New City Council members Cesar Cardenas and Suzanna Ibarra also took office, replacing Bettye Gavin and Terry Morris in Districts 4 and 5.

The swearing-in for new members of the City Council after the April 4 election maintained its traditional ceremonial atmosphere for most of the evening, but was interrupted by shouts and jeers from the audience when O’Dekirk in a farewell address repeated controversial claims that he had been the target of a conspiracy to discredit him more than two years ago.

The former mayor’s departure was followed by the swearing-in of D’Arcy who made no mention of his predecessor’s departing remarks.

D’Arcy proclaimed his love for the city and promised to lead by listening first.

He noted his campaign pledge to residents “that I wanted to improve Joliet and make it a better place to live.”

“I’m sure we can create a new path and one that we can all be proud of,” D’Arcy said.

A successful businessman with car dealerships in Joliet and Morris, D’Arcy said he would bring his same leadership style to city hall.

“Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a person who listens and makes the best decisions for everyone,” D’Arcy said. “I plan to continue to be that type of leader as mayor.”

D’Arcy’s comments were short on specifics.

In contrast, O’Dekirk made the longest speech of the evening, listing many accomplishments during his two terms as mayor, contrasting conditions in the city from eight years ago until now, and also giving credit to work done by appointees to certain commissions.

“The approach that I took was to make the most of the time that I was here,” O’Dekirk said. “The only regret I have as mayor is that I’m not going to be here to see through successful projects that I started.”

After thanking his family for their support, O’Dekirk brought up “the one thing I didn’t expect” when becoming mayor. He then repeated the allegations of a city inspector general report that came out a month before the election that the mayor was targeted in a conspiracy that included the filing of a false police report against him in 2020 by a former councilman.

A large segment of the audience erupted into shouts and jeers as O’Dekirk said he had been targeted by “a corrupt chief of police and a corrupt deputy chief of police” and others.

Councilman Cesar Guerrero, serving as mayor pro tem, gaveled the audience back to order, and O’Dekirk completed his comments shortly afterwards.

The episode did not diminish the enthusiasm for incoming council members Ibarra and Cardenas.

Ibarra listed issues she planned to address, including equitable water rates for residents, more neighborhood policing, and control of errant truck traffic.

Encouraging residents to contact her, Ibarra said, “I am ready and willing to serve all the residents of District 5 equitably.”

Three council members, who were reelected also were sworn in: Larry Hug, Sherri Reardon and Pat Mudron.

The evening included farewell remarks from Gavin, who did not run for reelection after serving on the council since 2014 in District 4. Morris, who was defeated seeking a fourth term in District 5, did not attend the ceremony. Council members said he was out of town.

Council members gave accolades to departing colleagues, including the mayor, with one interesting exception.

Mudron, who was reelected despite the inspector general report including him in the alleged conspiracy against O’Dekirk, had only two words when it was his turn for parting comments to the mayor: “Good luck.”