Hoffman Estates to Open Doors on Trustee Interviews
Granderson, Kimbriell, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Byline: Kimbriell Granderson Daily Herald Staff Writer
While many Northwest suburban communities continue their traditions of slipping behind closed doors to fill board vacancies, Hoffman Estates is looking to scrap custom.
Hoffman Estates Mayor Bill McLeod has decided to swing open the doors to the village board's process of interviewing candidates for board vacancies. The procedure has never been aired in public as far as McLeod, a 20-year board member, can remember.
"I think it's done that way now because it's always been done that way," McLeod said of keeping interviews closed to the public. "Maybe we'll set a trend."
On Saturday, trustees met openly for the first time to interview three of seven candidates seeking McLeod's trustee seat, which was left vacant when he was elected mayor April 3.
While the public won't be able to participate in the process, or hear final deliberations among the trustees after the interviews take place, McLeod said he hopes this new opportunity will establish more confidence from residents through openness in government, and a sense of equity among candidates.
"As fair as we may try to be behind closed doors, you don't have the proof of it," said Trustee Karen Mills. "(This way) everyone will know what we're asking and what the responses are."
The open meetings also give residents a chance to see what goals, ideas and qualifications each candidate brings to the elective office, since there's no actual election.
"I think you're hard-pressed to come up with a reason not to interview people in public," said Trustee Sue Kenley. "After all, they are going to be serving the people of the community in a position that's elected."
Many towns have sided with tradition, maintaining their private selections. Other towns omit board participation and rely on the mayor or village president to handpick a candidate that the entire board can later approve.
That was the case in both Fox River Grove and Des Plaines.
When Des Plaines Mayor Paul Jung died in 1999, then-Trustee Tony Arredia was elected among his fellow board members, mostly in open session, to fill the seat as mayor. He, in turn, solicited candidates for the trustees seat to be approved by the city council, said City Attorney David Wiltse. …