The controversial Metra Board of Directors is one step closer to getting back on the rails, according to County Board Chairman Dan Cronin.
The County Board appointed John Zediker to fill the county seat on the Metra Board Sept. 10.
Cronin said that after sorting through more than 30 applications for the job, he believed there was "only one candidate" that could tackle the many ethical and practical challenges facing Metra.
Zediker's background as the director of transportation, engineering and development in Naperville and as a DuPage County board member gave him the necessary policy background for the job, according to a news release from the county distributed at the time of Zediker's nomination. He also gained transportation management experience through his career in civil engineering in the public sector.
Cronin called the position a "difficult role in such a contentious and difficult environment."
"I value his judgment and his expertise," Cronin said. "I have no doubt there will be no learning curve with John Zediker. He will immerse himself immediately."
Zediker, who is from Naperville, said he was "humbled and honored" by the appointment, and was ready to "become a part of the solution." New board members such as himself would be responsible for ensuring a change in culture on the Board, he said.
"We really need to get back on track and right the ship," he said. "I think we have to establish leadership, first and foremost. Both at the chairman level, certainly, as well as internally."
Cronin said that Zediker will donate his Metra Board stipend to charity.
Zediker's appointment was approved with 13 county board members voting in favor and two – Laurie Nowak and Elizabeth Chaplin – voting "present."
Both Nowak and Chaplin said that while they felt Zediker was a qualified candidate, a lack of transparency and openness in the selection process kept them from voting for the appointment.
Though Cronin gave the county board members Zediker's resume and contact information 11 days prior to the vote, a full list of those who applied for the position was not made available to the Board or to the public, Chaplin said, adding that the county owed it to the other applicants to make sure the process is fair and open.
"For us, not seeing those other applicants to make a decision – I don't know that we are fully informed," she said.
Several board members, including Brian Krajewski, said that the role of the board in matters of appointment is to advise and consent to nominees.
"Our job is to confirm your appointment or say no to it," Krajewski said. "I think you made a great choice with John Zediker and my job is to vote for or vote on your choice."