Joliet city attorney plans to depart for Naperville

Corperation Counsel Sabrina Spano sits in on a hearing on the validity of nominating petitions of two City Council candidates at the Joliet City Electoral Board meeting on January 4th.

Another high-level official will leave the City of Joliet following a change in leadership in wake of the April 4 election.

On June 22, Joliet Corporation Counsel Sabrina Spano submitted her letter of resignation because she will be working for the City of Naperville’s legal department, said Krystal Walsh, senior human resource generalist for Joliet. The corporation counsel is the head of the city’s legal department.

Walsh said there is “no knowledge yet” of who will replace Spano.

Spano will start her position as deputy city attorney for Naperville on July 24, said Linda LaCloche, Naperville’s communications director.

Spano’s planned departure follows the resignation of former Joliet City Manager James Capparelli. His biggest supporter for staying on as city manager was Bob O’Dekirk, who lost the mayoral election April 4.

Corperation Counsel Sabrina Spano goes over paperwork with City Council candidate Christopher Parker at a hearing on the validity of his nominating petitions at the Joliet City Electoral Board meeting on January 4th.

Naperville’s downtown is often the envy of other suburbs, especially Joliet, which is still considered the third largest city in Illinois with a population of 150,362.

However, Naperville is tracking right behind Joliet with a population at 149,540. Census estimates from last year put Naperville even closer with a population of 149,936, and Joliet at 150,033.

Spano joined Joliet in 2018 as an assistant corporation counsel, which at that time was a newly created position that was not advertised.

At the time, Martin Shanahan, former interim city manager, said there was no need to post the job for applications because Spano’s application was on file and she was considered fit for the job.

Spano is the girlfriend of Will County Judge Dave Carlson, a former prosecutor who was once was part of a Joliet law firm with O’Dekirk and Judge Ken Zelazo. Carlson also challenged Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow in the 2012 election but lost.

Since Spano joined City Hall, she has worked on various legal matters with the city, such as complex lawsuits over the NorthPoint Development project and police disciplinary cases.

In 2020, Spano was offered the position of interim city manager after she reportedly received support from a majority of the City Council at the time, but she declined the job.

The position became vacant following the resignation of Steve Jones, who said his decision to leave was based on the “increasingly problematic ethical environment” at City Hall. He pointed to past controversies that involved O’Dekirk.