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First posted 12/12/2008 7:39 p.m.

Village Administrator Mike Sturino is leaving the top administrative post in Forest Park to head up a statewide organization that represents contractors and designers in the transportation industry.

Sturino quietly tendered his resignation on Wednesday, Dec. 10, and village officials confirmed the decision for the Review on Friday. Sturino’s last day will be Jan. 15, and Sturino said he expects to slide into his new job in the same week.

“It was a very difficult decision, but it was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up,” Sturino said Friday.

According to the outgoing administrator, his new title will be president and CEO of Illinois Road and Transportation Builders Association, which is headquartered in Itasca. The job includes both policy and administrative responsibilities and will require Sturino to register as a state and federal lobbyist.

The builders association is a statewide group representing contractors and architects in more than 350 firms. Both the Chicago Transit Authority and Metra are members, according to Sturino. In a statement released over the weekend, the builders association praised Sturino as a land-use expert with experience in municipal government and law. Before taking the administrative post in Forest Park, Sturino worked as an attorney specializing in municipal law.

“We are the voice of transportation in Illinois,” Chairman Tod Faerber said in a statement. “The IRTBA advocates for the adequate, proper and mindful investment in the very systems that keep our businesses and families moving across this state. Michael Sturino is a strong, forceful leader; one that we need in order to get our state moving again.”

Given President-elect Barack Obama’s plans to inject billions of dollars into infrastructure improvements as a way to jumpstart the national economy, Sturino said the opportunity is both exciting and an honor. Transportation is a “vital issue” locally and nationally, he said.

“It’s something that I’ve been really working toward my entire career,” Sturino said.

Mayor Anthony Calderone said the village council would soon begin discussions on finding a replacement. He credited Sturino for a job well done since joining the village in 2005.

“I think that Mike Sturino was most certainly an asset to our community and helped to build upon the level of professionalism that we’ve worked to build in the last nine years,” Calderone said.

According to Sturino, he was contacted by the association about a month ago and offered a chance to interview for the position. It was not a job that he sought, he said. He expects to remain at his home in Oak Park, but will commute to Springfield, Washington D.C., and points in between, he said.

Calderone said he did not make a counter offer to retain Sturino, understanding the village administrator is poised for a significant salary increase.

“He didn’t tell me the exact number, but it’s substantially more than he’s making here,” Calderone said.

A year ago, village council members approved a multiyear contract with Sturino that guaranteed a salary of $125,000 in the first year.