Joliet council hires interim city manager, but two dissent

Rod Tonelli will be chief city administrator for at least three months

Interim City Manager Rod Tonelli takes in Salsa Fest on Friday, June 9, 2023 in Downtown Joliet.

The City Council hired Rod Tonelli as interim city manager for Joliet in a 7-2 vote on Friday, but the search for a new city manager was set back a bit.

Tonelli was approved while council members Larry Hug and Jan Quillman questioned his credentials and voted against his appointment.

“Prove me wrong,” Quillman said to Tonelli after the meeting.

But she and Hug pointed to Tonelli’s lack of city manager experience and the city’s interest in hiring an outside consultant to assist when needed.

“That’s probably an indication that he’s not up to the position, even as an interim,” Hug said.

Tonelli said he was confident he can do the job and pointed to 30 years of experience as a planning consultant to local government and as a private business owner. He is the previous president and owner of Reuttiger, Tonelli & Associates, a civil engineering and planning firm that Tonelli sold in April.

Rod Tonelli awaits the start of a special meeting Friday of the Joliet City Council, which voted 7-2 to hire him as interim city manager. June 9, 2023.

“I look forward to working with all of you to be a bridge to the operations of the city so we can be sure to deliver the best services we can,” Tonelli told the council after the vote. “I have the skills to do that.”

Tonelli was hired for three months at a rate of pay based on an annual salary of $174,000. The agreement provides for him to continue on a month-to-month basis if needed.

I look forward to working with all of you to be a bridge to the operations of the city so we can be sure to deliver the best services we can. I have the skills to do that.”

—  Rod Tonelli, addresses the Joliet City Council

How long Tonelli is interim city manager depends on how long it takes the city to do a search for a permanent city manager.

That search was pushed back at least a little more than a week

The council also was to vote Friday to hire Northbrook-based GovHR to conduct a national search for city manager candidates.

But GovHR informed the city that it was unable to take on the Joliet job “due to their prior client commitment,” city Human Resources Director Kathy Franson told the council. Franson said she would bring the council names of other potential search firms at their next meeting, which is June 19.

Mayor Terry D’Arcy said he was confident in Tonelli’s ability to do the job.

Mayoral candidate Terry D'Arcy speaks at a Joliet Mayoral Forum hosted by the the National Hook-up of Black Women, in Joliet on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2023.

“I think his scope is going to be fine,” D’Arcy said after the meeting. “We have good leadership teams in the different departments here.”

D’Arcy this week acknowledged that the city was considering contracting with a government consultant on an as-needed basis to assist Tonelli.

The special meeting on Friday was held just three days after the departure of former City Manager James Capparelli. The council also approved a separation agreement that pays Capparelli until the end of his contract, which is July 12. Capparelli resigned after he and the council could not come to terms on an agreement that would have kept him on the job during the city manager search..