St. Charles Mayor Don DeWitte will end his 20-year career in politics by not seeking re-election in April.
DeWitte announced his intentions in a written statement Friday afternoon. He had been contemplating stepping away from the political scene for the past six months.
"I have been fortunate and blessed to have enjoyed the support of our residents, my fellow council members and the entire city staff for many years," DeWitte said Friday afternoon.
DeWitte's departure opens the door for a new mayor and, perhaps, a new dynamic on the city council. Aldermen had privately speculated for several weeks that DeWitte would not seek another term.
DeWitte was first elected to the city council in 1993 as 3rd Ward alderman, the same office his father, Alphonse, held for 26 years. DeWitte was unopposed in two subsequent re-election bids for alderman. He was elected mayor in 2005 and re-elected in 2009.
DeWitte earlier this month accepted a position with Wine Sergi Insurance as vice president of business development. He will assist with expanding the company's public and private business segments in Illinois and surrounding states.
"Life's priorities have a way of determining your path," DeWitte said in a recent memo to city staff and elected officials, detailing his acceptance of the job with the St. Charles company.
The memo indicated DeWitte quit as business development director with Floor Covering Associates in Naperville on July 20. Three days later, he accepted the position with Wine Sergi.
"It is an opportunity to join an organization that has been, and looks to become increasingly involved, in offering various insurance products to private business and government entities throughout the state of Illinois and beyond," DeWitte wrote in the job memo.
One of the organizations for which Wine Sergi provides insurance is the city of St. Charles.
In some instances, state law would prohibit DeWitte working for a company that does business with the city he also represents. DeWitte sought guidance from city attorney Gerry Gorski, who signed off on DeWitte's new job as being completely legal because of several factors:
DeWitte doesn't own 1 percent or more of Wine Sergi. DeWitte typically doesn't cast a vote on city business, and would be required to abstain from any vote involving Wine Sergi. The only other requirement is for DeWitte to disclose his employment with Wine Sergi, which he did with the staff memo.
In other words, Gorski ruled DeWitte's new job is completely legal.
But legal matter and the stigma of having even the appearance of a conflict of interest in government are two different things, some aldermen said. DeWitte is not worried about that.
"There is nothing unethical, immoral or illegal" about taking the job, DeWitte said Friday.
He also said his decision not to run, and the new job, are two "coincidental" issues. He has been thinking about getting out of the mayor's office "to refocus on my family and my professional interests," he said.
"I have total respect for Mayor Don DeWitte. I thought he did a wonderful job," 1st Ward Alderman Jon Monken said, citing the DeWitte family's service to the community as inspiring him to run for alderman.