Michael Sturino's appointment Monday night as the new village administrator is a welcome step for Forest Park.
His resume speaks volumes about the potential he brings .
Sturino served in local government for over 10 years and has a law degree from John Marshall. Most importantly, he specialized in zoning law and land use and has experience practicing municipal and local government law. Recently, he has brought that experience to Forest Park when he has served as the village's counsel to local commissions. Sturino is an active resident of Chicago's South Loop neighborhood, with a real appreciation of citizens' passions for their community. To us, it seems, he knows that while Forest Park is a small town, it is urban and sophisticated, a result of being a stones throw away from Chicago.
Sturino's resume also reflects his "extensive hands-on experience and expertise from the staff level in planning, zoning, economic development, finance, housing rehabilitation, public relations, employment practices, grants administration, health and liability insurance, and ordinance drafting."
On the surface, it appears he has the background Forest Park needs to continue and accelerate its forward progress. He also seems to have the energy and enthusiasm needed to get the job done.
With his background, however, comes a price tag.
Commissioner Theresa Steinbach abstained from voting in favor of Sturino Monday night because, to her, the price tag is too high. He is reportedly making a base salary of $115,000, some 30 percent more than his predecessor Matt O'Shea. Steinbach also mentioned some of the perks Sturino is receiving, including an unlimited gas card, as a reason for her abstention.
The ill-advised and we hope soon to be reversed decision not to release Sturino's contract, is a sour note to blow on this otherwise happy occasion. But starting off in secrecy is a bad way to begin what we expect to be a tutorial in open government.
In any event, though, a notable salary hike and added perks are a necessary leap of faith for Forest Park, a town that just a year ago was laying off village staff. There is not a more important hire a village council will make than the village administrator. This is an investment, not a cost.
It is telling of Sturino's talent and abilities that Steinbach chose to abstain instead of voting against the candidate. And seeing Commissioner Patrick Doolin siding with Mayor Anthony Calderone and Commissioners Tim Gillian and Mark Hosty in this key vote is a hopeful sign.
The four votes in favor and one abstention give Sturino something his predecessor never earned, unanimous support from the council. This is a treasured possession he needs to work hard to keep.
Sturino would be wise to learn from his predecessor's mistakes.
O'Shea, while bright and energetic, became a political figure and was seen by many as taking sides. This made him ineffective as an administrator.
Sturino needs to be professional and understand that with the higher price tag also come higher expectations in terms of the quality of the work he does and in terms of how he chooses to deal with, or avoid dealing with, town politics.
We are hopeful that Sturino will perform his job professionally and that he will be a positive addition to the town. Welcome Mike Sturino.