Ald. Milissis: Aldermanic Appointment Process Needs Changes


Today we are posting a comment by 2nd Ward Ald. Nicholas Milissis – submitted in response to an anonymous comment of 04.07.17 at 1:52 pm. to our 04.05.17 post – stating the Alderman’s case for changing the process by which replacement aldermen are selected, such as when an alderman resigns or dies.

We are featuring Ald. Milissis’ comment as a stand-alone post because of its timeliness: A new 7th Ward alderman will need to be appointed after Acting Mayor/Mayor-Elect Marty Maloney vacates his aldermanic seat in May to assume the Big Chair at The Horseshoe. We also are providing an Editor’s Note as our counterpoint to Ald. Milissis’ arguments.


First off the only true representational way to select an alderman is an election by all residents of a ward. In the situation of a vacancy we are in a less than ideal situation because someone is being appointed and not actually elected in an election open to all residents of a ward. This process is already imperfect and what we are dealing with here are the different approaches to making the best of a bad situation.

I vehemently disagree with assertions that aldermen are primarily responsible for their ward. Even though aldermen are elected by a specific ward they are part of a council charged with the well-being of the entire city. I vote on all matter of issues that affect a specific ward other than my own. When I vote for a street to be resurfaced in the 5th ward I don’t look at it from a 2nd ward perspective but rather as a repair to our city’s infrastructure that needs to be carried out.

Aldermen have a representational role and responsibility to their immediate constituents when it comes to liaising with city staff on their behalf and on specific issues (challenging a water bill, an argument with a neighbor over a tree or zoning violation etc.). However, they also have a much larger and in my view more important role of legislating for the benefit of the entire city.

It is that tribalism mentality of “I know what’s best for MY ward”, and the assertion that wards have unique needs or ward specific needs that is pervasive in Park Ridge and which has led to divisions and a mentality of “not my problem” unless it’s in my backyard. That is not what a City or Municipal Corporation is meant to be.

For example, just because I might have less O’Hare noise in my ward does not mean that I do not support and vote in favor of city actions that might alleviate my Park Ridge neighbors on the south side of the city.

Comments such as those of Anon 04.07.17 @ 1:52 pm illustrate the point that the process is flawed and that if someone is appointed (and I emphasize appointed) to make decisions that will affect the entire city, then elected aldermen should have a say.

In fact the current process already recognizes the fact that aldermen have a say. The current process (which I think is partly based on the requirements of the Illinois municipal code) states that aldermen have to confirm the selection of the mayor. No matter who the committee appointed by the mayor selects, the council still has to confirm the selection. I am not trying to take away input from residents. I am merely trying to get the aldermen involved earlier in the process where they can ask questions and participate in interviews instead of just having them vote at the tail end.

I envision a process where some aldermen are added to the interviewing committee alongside residents of the ward impacted.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The City Code authorizes the mayor to appoint successor aldermen to fill Council vacancies between elections, subject to approval by a majority of the Council. For more than a decade (if not longer), the last three mayors – Frimark, Schmidt and Maloney – have chosen to avail themselves of the recommendations of committees filled with citizens of the affected wards who interview and assess the qualifications of their fellow ward residents who are seeking appointment.

Irrespective of whether an individual alderman (or aldermanic candidate) holds the interests of his/her ward above those of the City as a whole – or vice versa, as you encourage – the bottom line is that the selection of a ward’s alderman always has been the province of the citizens of that ward, not of the aldermen of other wards. Allowing aldermen from other wards to meddle in, and maybe even dominate, another ward’s aldermanic appointment process undermines the self-determination of those ward residents.

Instead of changing the current unofficial process, we would encourage the amendment of the City Code to: (a) require the mayor to form a ward committee when filling Council vacancies; and (b) establish a process for how that committee will operate. Frankly, the codified process could be modeled after the one employed by the Fifth Ward committee in recommending the successor to the late Ald. Dan Knight: interviews and deliberations held according to published schedules, open to the public, with audiotaped proceedings publicly available on the City’s website.

If sitting aldermen want to “get…involved earlier in the process,” they can do so just like any other citizen.

And at the end of the day, those aldermen still have to approve the person whom the committee recommends, assuming the mayor approves him/her and advances the appointment.

So even if the other aldermen haven’t availed themselves of the committee process, they still have the opportunity to question the appointee in an open Council session before voting on the appointment – as they had with Ald. Melidosian’s appointment.

The current process works fine. It should be codified, not tampered with.

To read or post comments, click on title.

4 comments so far

Spot on pubdog. The last round of appointment with public sessions recorded was admirable and btw those appointed very dedicated and qualified volunteers in our fine city.

If it ain’t broke….

You’ve said better than I could Pub Dog, Ald. Milissis’ proposal is hot garbage, ultimately the Alderfolks get MORE say in the current process than a general election, move on to actual issues that NEED to get solved Mr. Milissis.

I disagree with Ald. Milissis but I applaud his willingness to raise this issue here and sign his name to it.

I have suspected over the years that various other aldermen, school board members and park board members have registered opinions anonymously because they lacked the courage of Ald. Milissis and a few other of our elected officials willing to own their opinions.

Here is a scenario for Alderman Milissis to consider to explain why many of us feel a committee of citizens of the particular ward with the vacancy should have the say in the selection of a replacement and NOT the other aldermen.
Suppose the selection of the 7th ward alderman includes consideration of the issue of a SSA for the Mayfoeld estates area and it comes down to two equally qualified candidates with differing views on that one issue. Does alderman Milissis vote for the candidate that is against the SSA because that would likely be the position alderman Milissis’ 2d ward constituents would want OR does he vote for the candidate who supports SSA because it would save tax dollars for the 7th ward taxpayers in favor of putting the burden on the residents who years ago received a discount on the putchsse of their homes in an area where there were no storm sewers?
A dilemma that shouldn’t have to play out because each ward in a representative democracy should be entitled to select its own representative

Happy Easter btw.

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