Now that the term lengths of Forest Park Public Library board members have been sorted out, it may be a few more months before a board seat that has been vacant for the past seven months will be filled.
The seat has been vacant since March 2021, when trustee Ayanna Brown moved out of Forest Park about half-way through her term. Mayor Rory Hoskins, who is responsible for appointing library board members, declined to give a firm timeline for when the vacancy might be filled, saying only that it would be about two months or less.
According to Pilar Shaker, library director, the vacancy hasn’t had any impact on the board’s business, since there are more than enough sitting trustees to have a quorum. Shaker said that “having five instead of six [trustees] is not a significate issue” and that the board is still able to carry out all of its duties.
Hoskins said that, while he would fill it in “at some point,” he wasn’t sure how soon it would be. When pressed whether it would be a few weeks or a few months, he said that he expects to fill the vacancy “probably within the next two months, maybe sooner.”
Under the Illinois Local Library Act, in villages operating under the commission form of government, the village council is responsible for appointing the library trustees. In practice, Forest Park mayors have been the ones who appointed library trustees, with the village council simply voting on whether to confirm the appointments.
The library act states that trustees must be appointed on a staggered timeline, with two trustees appointed one year, two appointed a year after that and two appointed on the third year. If a trustee leaves before completing their term, the council must appoint a replacement to serve out the rest of the term.
Over the years, the timing of the appointments slipped from the three-year appointment cycle. On Sept. 27, the village council adopted the ordinance that shortened some terms and lengthened others, so that two trustees’ terms will end in 2024, two trustees’ terms will end in 2025 and two trustees’ terms will end in 2026. Under those changes, whoever fills Brown’s seat will serve until May 13, 2024.
The Local Library Act requires the village council to fill the vacancy but doesn’t set any limits on how long a seat can remain vacant. The village municipal code and the library bylaws are also silent on the matter.
The board had two vacancies as of June 2021, when Chantel Manzanares’ term expired – though, according to the meeting minutes, Manzanares was absent from March, April and May board meetings, a period when Brown had already resigned. Hoskins didn’t fill Manzanares’ seat until Aug. 8, when he appointed Trustee Eboni Murray.
According to Article IV of the library bylaws, the board must have four trustees in attendance in order to have a quorum. But Shaker said that the quorum is actually based on the number of filled seats, with quorum set at three trustees while there are five filled seats, and that it will be four trustees once Brown’s seat is filled. According to the minutes, every 2021 meeting so far had at least four trustees in attendance.