Mayor Anthony Calderone has delayed the council’s hiring of a new village administrator, but is reluctant to inform his colleagues – and the public – as to why he needs more time to make a decision.
In late July, Calderone and the commissioners interviewed the four finalists for the job, wrapping up those meetings on July 29. According to two commissioners, the mayor had asked that council members be prepared to deliberate that evening so that a job offer could be made and the position filled. During that closed-door meeting, the mayor was the only one not to offer an opinion.
“All four commissioners expressed their preference in a candidate,” Commissioner Rory Hoskins said of the meeting. “But for whatever reason, the mayor chose to change plans and he simply refused to make his decision that night.”
Then, following the council’s Aug. 10 meeting, Calderone said he needed still more time to deliberate.
“I’m not really sure what it is,” Commissioner Marty Tellalian said of the holdup. “He’s not shared it with me.”
Village Clerk Vanessa Moritz confirmed she spoke with each of the four applicants to let them know there would be a delay. She said she expects the council to take a vote during its next meeting Aug. 24.
Calderone was no more forthcoming when asked by the Review about slowing down the hiring process.
“I’m not going to speculate or offer anything of substance except to simply say that I have not made my mind up,” Calderone said.
The Aug. 24 meeting may not be a deadline for reaching a decision either, said the mayor. He indicated he hopes to take a vote by early September.
Potentially giving him pause is the possibility for political backlash should the mayor be forced to break a tie vote in hiring Forest Park’s next village administrator. One of the applicants is the mayor’s long-time friend and political ally, Tim Gillian. Gillian served alongside Calderone as a commissioner for three consecutive terms, and the two supported one another’s campaigns.
Calderone said he is “not prepared to comment” on whether political considerations have a role in stalling the vote.
“I have to internalize this among all the other responsibilities I have,” Calderone said.
Asked to be more specific, he said that, as adults, each of the council members have many responsibilities to juggle and he needs more time to square this decision within the context of those responsibilities.
In April, the mayor downplayed his ties to Gillian and said each candidate deserves to be evaluated on their merits. Disqualifying a personal friend from the applicant pool simply because of that relationship would be unfair, he said earlier this year.
Gillian is a semi-retired entrepreneur who ran a successful paving company for many years. That business, Abbey Paving Co., also did business with the village while Gillian held public office.
Council members began searching for a new village administrator in late January, and Calderone has had an integral role in reviewing each candidate. The mayor, alongside Tellalian and Commissioner Mike Curry, served on the subcommittee responsible for screening applicants and deciding who would be granted an interview. Nine candidates were interviewed by the subcommittee. The four finalists were interviewed by the entire council.
According to Tellalian, that second round of interviews revealed nothing alarming that would require further screening of the applicants, thus delaying a vote.
“It’s up to the mayor to call the vote,” Tellalian said. “He sets the agenda. If either of us was undecided, we would be proceeding.”
Mark Hosty, himself a three-term commissioner who campaigned alongside Gillian, said the council should vote “sooner rather than later” to fill the position, and the commissioners are ready to do so. Without detailing what issues might remain, however, Hosty said there may be a need for continuing discussions.
Curry did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Council members could force the issue rather easily, said Calderone, by asking that the matter be placed on the next agenda. No one has asked him to do so, he said.
“In terms of agenda items – and they know it – all they would have to do is make the request,” Calderone said.