YORKVILLE – John Purcell said it’s been all meetings since he was elected as the new mayor of Yorkville on April 2.
Purcell said a lot of his time spent in the last month or so has been attending city meetings and picking the brains of aldermen and staff on various issues concerning the city. He said he has been up front with them that he’s a budget person and has told people he wants the city to be accountable and responsive, and he might start looking at financial things in particular a lot more closely.
“That’s the main thing, is that I’m going to be asking a lot of questions,” Purcell said.
Purcell will be sworn in as mayor during the Yorkville City Council meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 14, at City Hall, 800 Game Farm Road.
In the meantime, Purcell said, there are no specific first orders of business that he anticipates addressing right off the bat aside from learning the process and the talents of city officials and staff. Not that city staff hasn’t been doing so in the past, he said, but the main focus right off the bat will be maintaining housekeeping type stuff and getting some direction on committee assignments.
“I’m not going in with a stick of dynamite and blowing it up,” Purcell said.
Purcell said he will be looking at the city’s long term needs as well and is anticipating discussion on issues like water supply, which might not even be resolved during this term. He said he plans on looking at roads as well, specifically whatever needs to be fixed or addressed in next 12 months, and other capital needs compounded with the city’s growth.
“But none of that is immediate,” Purcell said. “None of that is going to happen in the next six months, that’s for sure.”
When asked about whether there are any anticipated staffing changes while he’s mayor, Purcell said he anticipates looking at everything but doesn’t expect an ax to drop on day one. He said he will look at everything operationally as he has done within the county, particularly looking at whether a position would need to be filled if a staff member leaves or retires.
“That’s a great opportunity to look at operations,” Purcell said.
As Purcell learns the talents of staff and other city officials and the areas they’re talented in, he said, that’s when he might take closer look at staffing in general and whether the city could do things differently in that regard. He said he wanted to reiterate that by no means would this be something that would be immediate.
“This is not a sprint – this is not a 100-meter dash,” Purcell said. “This is going to be a longer term race.”
Most of all, Purcell said, he wants to continue to make sure there is a culture and understanding that the city serves the people and to continue to act in that manner.
“We may have a tendency to lose sight of that,” Purcell said. “And I don’t want to lose sight of that.”
Last County Board meeting
Purcell had his last meeting as a member of the Kendall County Board representing District 1 on Tuesday, May 7, where he was invited by board members to read the county proclamation marking May 14, 2019 as John Purcell Day.
Board members provided anecdotes about how they first met Purcell. While they might have vehemently disagreed with him on certain issues, they said, they always appreciated the debate during County Board meetings, and Purcell shared some anecdotes in return that were spurred by him cleaning his County Board desk.
County Board member Amy Cesich, who also represents District 1, said Purcell was like her nemesis when she was first elected to the board in 2012. While Cesich and Purcell had their battles, she said, it made her a better board member and helped her better formulate her arguments with the goal of getting Purcell to reconsider his position on any particular issue.
Despite their battles, Cesich said, she appreciated that Purcell always listened and agreed with previous comments about that being what ultimately makes good government.
“It should not be easy … we should definitely be having those discussions and there should be those questions, and we should always value each others’ opinion,” Cesich said.
Purcell said he appreciated the proclamation and said with a laugh that he appreciated that he got to make the motion for its approval.
“It’s bittersweet,” Purcell said. “I’m going to miss the county, but I’m looking forward to the next chapter in my elected career.”
When previously asked if there’s anyone lined up to fill his seat, Purcell said he has had people talk to him and he knows what Kendall County Board Chairman Scott Gryder is generally looking for in his replacement. He said he knows Gryder is looking for someone to attend meetings regularly and be present during board and committee meetings – someone representing the county that would be willing to run for re-election, he said.
“I know he’s not looking for a seat warmer,” Purcell said.
Purcell said he is aware of specific names of people who are being considered for the position. He declined comment on the actual names and directed additional comment to Gryder.