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Column

Okon: Shanahan not among final three for Joliet city manager job

City Attorney Marty Shanahan looks over a budget report at a December 2018 City Council meeting when he was serving as interim city manager.
City Attorney Marty Shanahan looks over a budget report at a December 2018 City Council meeting when he was serving as interim city manager.

City Attorney Marty Shanahan is no longer among the finalists for the city manager job. At least that’s what sources say, and it appears to be the case.

Local attorney James Capparelli made the final cut of three candidates, sources say. So, that’s interesting, since Shanahan has some experience on the job having twice served as interim.

Capparelli does not appear to have any experience as a city administrator, although he was put on the Joliet Plan Commission last year and does have military leadership background.

The other two finalists for the job are from out of state but are said to have experience in Illinois.

Mayor Bob O’Dekirk, who supported Shanahan for the job before he was removed as interim city manager by a divided City Council in June, would not comment on whether Shanahan made it to the last round of interviews.

“I don’t want to talk about details like that,” O’Dekirk said.

Shanahan could not be reached for comment.

O’Dekirk did say he hoped to have a city manager chosen later this month when finalists are interviewed for a second time.

“There are three candidates left and one more round of interviews,” O’Dekirk said. “I would think that evening after the last interviews we will have a vote.”

Meanwhile, in Florida

Illinois law does not require municipalities to reveal candidates for city manager jobs, and Joliet doesn’t.

Typically, however, some names – especially local people who put in for the job – come out in the process before the choice is announced.

Florida is different. Names of applicants for public jobs are made public.

And it became public knowledge in August that Shanahan had applied for the city manager job in Gainesville, Florida.

The Gainesville job went to Lee Feldman, who had been fired as city manager in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in 2018. There was some reporting in Gainesville media about the frequency at which city managers get forced out.

Feldman said it was the first time for him.

“It took me 33 years to earn the badge of honor of termination,” Feldman said in an article published by WUFT in Gainesville.

Joliet’s last permanent city manager, David Hales, left with two years left in his contract, taking a buyout from the city. His predecessor, Jim Hock, retired from the job but had been fired from his previous city manager position in Park Ridge.

Back in Joliet

The rocky recent past of the Joliet city manager job is a likely consideration for the remaining candidates.

A 5-3 vote removed Shanahan. A change in one vote would have been a tie that O’Dekirk undoubtedly would have broken to give the job to Shanahan.

The same 5-3 split occurred when interim City Manager Steve Jones was given the contract he wanted to do the job until the end of February. It would not be surprising to see another divided vote when the next city manager is hired.

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