Human Relations appointments put on hold in Aurora
By Stephanie Lulay firstname.lastname@example.org August 14, 2013 7:42PM
Aurora Mayor Thomas Weisner speaks to a group of supporters and announces that he is running for a third term as Mayor at Piper's Banquets In Aurora on Thursday, October 4, 2012 | Sean King ~ For Sun-Times Media.
Updated: August 15, 2013 8:42AM
AURORA — Following a technology glitch and community complaints, aldermen opted to hold off on confirming mayoral appointments to the Aurora Human Relations Commission for two weeks.
One alderman said he did not have enough time to properly study the three candidates Mayor Tom Weisner presented, and one applicant said he felt personally snubbed when Mayor Tom Weisner did not pick him to serve.
Weisner presented three candidates for appointment Tuesday: Sheila Gray, Qocavib Revolorio and William Small.
Alderman Edward Bugg, 9th Ward, said he could not vote to support the candidates because he did not receive their resumes until one hour before the City Council meeting.
Chief of Staff Carie Anne Ergo said the city is in the process of moving to a paperless system, and as such, aldermen recently began receiving information via iPads. A glitch in the system prevented Bugg from downloading the resumes, she said, but the problem has since been fixed.
Bugg made a motion to table the item for two weeks, and the motion was approved 11-1 with Alderman John “Whitey” Peters, 5th Ward, voting ‘no.’
Former Aurora Township Clerk Juan Thomas said Wednesday that Weisner would not appoint him to one of the open commission seats for “political reasons.”
Thomas, 42, said that he’s known Weisner for close to 20 years and backed Weisner during his first election in 2005. But when Weisner ran for re-election in 2009, Thomas publicly stated that Weisner needed to create policies that would ensure the city would hire more African American and Latino contractors.
Thomas said Weisner’s decision not to appoint him to the Human Relations Commission was “personally and politically” motivated.
“It’s been an ongoing thing. He and I have never resolved that major issue,” Thomas said. “(Weisner) shunned me because I have the nerve to have a different opinion. He doesn’t want a broad perspective, he wants things done his way.”
Weisner said he looks at the qualifications of potential candidates and nominates candidates based on whom he feels would be the best to serve.
“In this case, there was simply another person who I felt was the best possible candidate at this time,” he said Tuesday night.
Thomas, an attorney and pastor who has run for political office six times, had his law license suspended for 90 days in 2006 after he was charged with filing a document containing a forged signature with the LaSalle County Clerk’s office.
Weisner said that the makeup of the Human Relations Commission is supposed to reflect the makeup of the community.
Gray and Small are African American and Revolorio is of mixed race. Revolorio said Wednesday his mother was born in North America and his father is from Guatemala. Thomas said Wednesday that he is African American.
Through Ergo Wednesday, Weisner declined to address Thomas’ claims.
Community organizer Peggy Hicks said that Thomas was the candidate selected by the Fox Valley Christian Ministerial Alliance, a group that represents 5,000 African American parishioners. She said that historically the Alliance had recommended candidates to be considered to serve on the Human Relations Commission.
Bishop Charles Phillips, president of the Alliance, said the Alliance submitted 200 signatures to the Human Relations Commission in support of Thomas. If Weisner didn’t want to appoint Thomas, the Alliance would have preferred to nominate another Alliance-backed candidate for the post, Hicks said.
“We felt that we were left out of the process, and we would like to be included,” Phillips said. “We would like you to reconsider our nominee Juan Thomas.”
Weisner said the way the appointment process works by ordinance is that non-profit groups have the ability to put forward names to be considered for serving on the commission.
“Once that has been put forward, it is the Mayor’s decision as to whom to nominate or to put forward from among that pool of candidates,” he said. “From that point, we don’t get into a dialogue (concerning) the candidates.”
Those that are not put forward for nomination remain in the pool for future consideration, Weisner said.