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Normal Town Council has Long Discussion on Reappointment of Commissions

Written by on March 16, 2021

NORMAL, Ill.- The Normal Town Council approved a contract of more than $350,000, and approved the reappointments of various commissions Monday night.

The $356,662 contract to George Gildner Inc. is a Sump Pump Discharge and Storm Sewer Improvements Project. This was among the Omnibus Agenda, and was unanimously approved.

One item that was pulled for discussion by Stan Nord was the motion to approve reappointments of various boards, commissions, and committees.

“We’ve had boards and commissions that have gone without someone being appointed for sometime,” said Nord.

He used the example of Connect Transit having an absent seat for over two years.

“It seems like we may be doing this kind of last minute,” said Nord. “We’re kind of packing the boards, and kind of tying the hands of the next council.”

Nord said the next council will need to work with the new boards and committees, so there needs to be a good relationship. He suggested that they table the decision to approve the reappointments until the next council is elected.

Council member Kevin McCarthy replied with why he thinks politics should not be aligned with this.

“I disagree with that wholly. We’ve got volunteers that give a tremendous amount of their time and service. The terms of service have been set for decades for these boards,” said McCarthy. “Intentionally trying to rewrite these boards to a line with politics is a bad move for the town.”

He argued that not changing the way they do things will help keep focus on what each board is meant to do.

Council member Karyn Smith had a similar view as McCarthy.

“I am opposed to postponing appointment to these boards for political reasons,” Said Smith. “I was appalled when it happened at the federal level to block the appointment of the Supreme Court Justice 10 months before the election that year.”

Smith said she believes it is wrong for someone to coast in their elected role, and think there is a period of time they’re not supposed to do their job.

Council member Lorenz gave three reasons why she disagreed with Nord’s motion to postpone. The first one was that the boards are designed to act independent of the council.

“Having served on two of those commissions, I know that is very important,” said Lorenz.

Secondly, she said entering the commissions into the political arena would cause less people to want to be involved.

“Mr.Nord, I think you would actually limit the number of eager parties to move forward,” said Lorenz.

Her third point was that openings come all the time, and there will be overlaps.

Mr.Nord questioned Mayor Koos’s choice in the Planning Commission. “This comes before the council. The mayor chooses and council is to approve.”

He explained he feels he wouldn’t be properly representing the people who elected him if he didn’t ask these questions.

“If the intention is that we’re just supposed rubber stamp what the mayor, and whomever the mayor is, whoever they choose, then please update the code so it doesn’t say the council has to approve,” said Nord.

To wrap up the twenty minute conversation, Lorenz said she was disappointed in what they discussed.

“Mr, Nord, you have politicized this conversation, and you have politicized this process,” said Lorenz. “I know you are supporting a different person for leadership, and it’s abundantly clear by you bring this up.”

Ultimately, the council was not swayed by Nord’s argument, and the motion to approve the reappointments passed with a 6-1 vote.