DOWNERS GROVE – For the first time in weeks, the Downers Grove Village Council is finally at full force.
After several absences, the elected body swore in a pair of new members Sept. 6.
Residents Marge Earl and Nicole Walus officially joined the council alongside their families during a board meeting, which was followed by a special reception.
Mayor Martin Tully welcomed the pair, saying he respected all who ran for or submitted their name to be on the council, and warned the two newcomers of a busy shortened term.
“I know that you have the commitment, the capacity and the dedication to get where you need to be in order to help us as a body make the important decisions we need to over the coming months,” he said.
Earl and Walus will both be up for re-election in April 2017.
“I walked into this knowing it was a lot of work, and I hope I’m up to it,” Earl said. “I can’t follow Commissioner Olsen because there were three of him, ... but I’ll do my best to try to be there and listen and talk to people.”
Earl, the chairperson of the Zoning Board of Appeals and Comprehensive Planning Ad-Hoc Committee member, took her spot in the trickle-down aftermath that began with former State Rep. Ron Sandack’s sudden resignation earlier this year. His move came months before his re-election bid, and he cited “cybersecurity issues” as a reason for resigning.
Sandack was then replaced on the state ballot and in Springfield by council member David Olsen, where he will face current council member and Democrat Greg Hosé.
Walus, a special education teacher, was unanimously approved to take the spot of Gina Vattimo, who abruptly and succinctly left her post Aug. 22 after only 15 months on the job.
“I’m very grateful and humbled and excited to begin this journey with this wonderful group of people,” Walus said.
Both Vattimo and Olsen were on hand during the meeting to wish their replacements luck.
Olsen asked the new members to be mindful of their responsibilities towards all residents in the village.
“As a former member of this esteemed body I know that it is a great honor to serve, a great privilege to serve, and I wish you all the best” Olsen said. “If there’s anything that I can do as a former council member to help in your transition or advice I can provide, I’m happy to do so.”
Vattimo, who has yet to publicly announce the reason for her departure from the council, thanked both her former colleagues for their service and the new board members for their willingness to serve.
“You all are going to do great and I know it,” she said.