The Joliet City Council notably at odds on many issues in recent years appeared to be a united group for a ceremonial evening Monday as the three at-large members elected April 6 were sworn into office and struck a hopeful note for the future.
Joe Clement and Cesar Guerrero took their council seats for the first time, and Jan Quillman began her fifth term in office.
Each made remarks after being sworn in, and Clement touched upon council divisions briefly in his comments.
“We must set aside our differences to make sure we make decisions that are in the best interests of the city of Joliet,” said Clement, who retired from the Joliet Police Department last year and comes to the council after having served a term on the Joliet Park District board.
Guerrero at age 25 is the youngest member of the City Council and begins his first term in elected office.
“It’s a much different view of everything up here,” Guerrero said after taking his council seat.
Guerrero, who has in the past year addressed the council on a few issues, noted that he has “seen my now fellow members of the council applauded and encouraged and at times reprimanded.”
All three newly elected council members spoke with hope about the future.
Clement envisioned Joliet as being a model for other cities with new economic development on the horizon.
Guerrero said he hoped his election would inspire young people in the city to become involved in local government.
Quillman said, “Joliet is experiencing a new renaissance, and I’m glad to be part of it because the best is yet to come.”
Quillman also remarked on one of the milestone moments of the evening.
“To be honest, to be here for a fifth term, I never thought I would be the senior member of the City Council,” she said.
Quillman gained that distinction as Councilman Michael Turk, who did not seek re-election, stepped down Monday after 34 years in office.
The evening included resolutions honoring Turk and Councilman Herb Lande, who left after a little more than four months in office after being appointed to fill a vacancy.
“Thirty-four years is a long time,” Turk said. “However, I am not the longest serving council member in Joliet.”
Turk paid tribute to former councilman Joe Shetina, 36 years, and Robert Hacker, 34 years, and other council members, mayors, city officials and staff who, he said, contributed to accomplishments in the city.
He also paid tribute to Lande’s contribution since joining the council in December.
“I think you added more to the council than you realize,” Turk said. “You came on when things were pretty tough, and you had a calming effect.”
The council has operated with less controversy in recent months, which also may have something to do with settling the often divisive city manager issue when James Capparelli was approved for the job in January, although in a divided 5-3 vote.
“We may not have always agreed,” Lande said of his time with the council. “But we were never disagreeable.”