Joliet Township Clerk Alicia Morales hired a Will County Board member and Democratic Illinois Senate candidate earlier this year.
When the hiring came up for approval from the township board in late July, two trustees questioned the hiring of Rachel Ventura, asking about her availability if she were to be elected to the senate next year.
Trustee Ray Slattery said he wasn’t concerned about the hiring, but wanted to know whether Ventura would work full or part time.
Morales told the board Ventura would be working full time and that she would address her availability if she were elected to the senate, according to meeting minutes.
“We’ll cross that bridge when we get there,” Morales recalled saying in an interview.
When The Herald-News requested a recording of the July 27 meeting, Morales initially said she couldn’t send over a recording and that it could only be heard in person at the township office. After a recording was requested under the Freedom of Information Act, Morales said no recording existed because the device she uses to make an audio recording failed during that meeting.
Morales added if Ventura were elected to the state senate, the township would likely have to hire someone else to take her place as a deputy clerk.
All five trustees ultimately voted to approve Ventura’s hiring.
Ventura makes $50,000 a year in the role and declined to take any health benefits since she already collects them through her elected role as a Will County Board member where she makes $23,000 per year.
The clerk and deputy clerk are responsible for all township records for meetings, road projects and more.
Morales further explained that when she and the other new elected township officials came into office after the April election, some workers had left their jobs, leaving vacancies and more work for fewer people. She said the previous township clerk had at one time two deputy clerks so Ventura’s role isn’t a new position.
She also argued Ventura was “extremely well-qualified” for the position.
Plus, township officials have been busy with a myriad of projects, including updating procedures under the new administration. Part of those updates include a plan to record township board meetings on video and post them online, Morales said.
Ventura also pointed out she is not the only Will County Board member to work for a township government, which state law allows. Board member Jackie Traynere, D-Bolingbrook, was hired as the DuPage Township administrator earlier this year.
Two county board members, Jim Moustis, R-Frankfort, and Steve Balich, R-Homer Glen, both have also been elected as supervisors in Frankfort Township and Homer Township respectively.
Ventura added she believes government at all levels requires better transparency and honest workers, which she argued she will bring to her role at the Joliet Township government.
“I have shown that as an elected official,” she said. “I have shown that as an employee.”
Slattery, who had been a township trustee under the prior administration, said he was “very pleased” with the updates Morales and Ventura have made.
“They are bringing in new ideas, trying to bring in new technology,” he said and added, “I have no complaints. I think they’re doing a fine job.”
Source: The Daily Chronicle