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Downers Grove

Filling Barnett’s seat a priority for new council

DOWNERS GROVE – The newly elected Downers Grove Village Council soon will face its first decision.

As Bob Barnett takes the mayoral seat, he leaves behind his position as commissioner, one that he has held for the last decade. Barnett and the council soon will begin the search for the right candidate to finish the remainder of his term, which ends in 2020.

On April 11, Barnett took to Facebook and shared a brief outline with residents about the steps the council will take moving forward. While Barnett noted his drafted plan does not have any hard dates, he said the council will go into an executive session the week after the swearing-in ceremony May 7.

“In that May 14 meeting, what I hope to do is have the council – all of us – talk without any names or faces attached to the applications about what we hope to see,” Barnett said. “There may be some that are looking for particular experience or particular geographic representation or a particular demographic representation.

“And so I’m hoping that on the 14th, we’ll work through that a little bit in the absence of any applicants, so that when we have some, we should have a starting point that’s collectively agreed upon.”

Barnett wants the next commissioner to be thoughtful and to care about serving the community just as much as he does. Leading up to the April 2 election, Barnett’s campaign centered on his motto, “service above self,” and the individual selected should be part of the council for the right reasons, not “for any particular political move.”

Commissioner Bill White, one of three village officials who has finished his term, echoed Barnett’s stance on service. As a longtime resident of Downers Grove, White hopes the new council will appoint someone who has a strong voice, but is willing to be a team player and help his or her colleagues come to a consensus.

White said this person should have an understanding of how the village of Downers Grove works and respect for the people who help the community operate on a daily basis.

Mayor Martin Tully and Commissioner William Waldack, who have both dedicated years to the village, will be joining White in leaving their roles.

On Facebook, Barnett said he hopes to have the vacant commissioner seat filled by July 9. Until then, the council will have its work cut out, starting with creating a questionnaire for possible candidates before casting the net for applicants.

With that, White offers some advice for the next commissioner.

“Make sure that you get the facts from staff and various perspectives,” he said, noting that doing research, reaching out and speaking with residents is the best way to make a good, informed decision. “Don’t ever listen to one person and one clique.”

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