Normal Mayor Chris Koos offered a rebuttal to council member Stan Nord’s view of council involvement in appointments to boards and commissions during a WGLT interview Tuesday.
At Monday night's Town Council meeting, Nord abstained during a vote to appoint Tim McCue to a vacancy on the Connect Transit Board of Trustees. McCue currently serves as the area coordinator for University Housing Services at Illinois State University, and according to a bio read to the public during the meeting, has a background in accessibility and disability issues.
“We are the ones that are ultimately responsible; it’s not the mayor, it’s the town council as a whole,” said Nord, referring to the appointment.
Koos contested that view during a Sound Ideas interview. He said the council does not have any substantive role in appointments and indicated the vote should be nothing more than a formality.
“It’s advice and consent. It’s affirming that the mayor has the authority and made a pick,” said Koos.
Most such appointments are the"‘rubber stamps," Nord said Monday night, which is what he opposed. Central Illinois municipal councils rarely wish to dive into the drudgery of the many board, committee, commission, and task force positions a midsized city needs to fill.
Occasionally, an appointment will become a hot button issue. Bloomington’s appointments to the Connect Transit board and the Public Safety and Community Relations Board are examples in recent years. Koos framed the flap as politics and not governance.
“In this situation, I will tell you it’s all political. There are people who have very strong opinions (about Connect Transit) so they want people on the board who reflect exactly their issue. That’s not a good board appointment, in my opinion,” said Koos.
He said appointments should not be made based on a single issue.
When an appointment threatens to become a hot potato, mayors often quietly screen their choice with council members behind the scenes to encourage buy-in.
“I talked with some council members and they were fine with the appointment. This is an executive appointment. That’s the way it has been done for 50 years in this community,” said Koos.
Another council member, Karyn Smith, also weighed in Monday night, saying, “Without having an opportunity to speak to this individual in advance, I don’t have any sense of whether or not I can feel comfortable that this person will in fact support some of the things that constituents have identified as priorities.”
“It is hard right now to get people to volunteer for these boards and commissions. And if we go to a situation where they have to go through a public interview process with seven different people who may not even agree on it, it’s going to make it even harder for people,” said Koos, who argued for governance in considering a broad range of issues instrad of single-issue politics.
“Where is the problem? Where is my troublesome appointee? Where have mayors around the area made bad decisions on that? All of a sudden now it’s an issue?” said Koos.
Koos said McCue came to his attention during volunteer committee service to develop the town’s bicycle pedestrian plan and the mayor started hearing good things about him. Koos said he sought input from someone he knows who works under McCue. Koos said he interviewed McCue about the post. And he heard from another Connect Transit Board member who spoke with McCue about the role of the transit board.
“I thought that was the right pick,” said Koos.
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