Three Lombard trustees walked out of a meeting in progress Thursday night, ending what they saw as fruitless discussions about who should serve as acting village president until the April election.
Without the presence of Greg Gron, Keith Giagnorio and Bill Ware, the remaining three trustees were unable to continue the meeting.
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"The only recourse we have is to adjourn," said Trustee Laura Fitzpatrick, whose name had been chosen from a hat to lead the meeting.
Fitzpatrick, along with trustees Peter Breen and Zachary Wilson, said they wished to continue deliberations Thursday until an acting leader was chosen. The three who left said it would be more productive to take another two weeks to build consensus first.
The village has gone without a top elected official since the Aug. 18 death of longtime Village President William J. "Bill" Mueller. Mueller's wife, Eileen, was among four public speakers who urged trustees to rise above political motives and choose a leader in the best interests of the village.
"Putting all personal opinions and agendas behind us, let's ask, 'What would Bill do?' We all know the answer and it is really very simple," Mueller said.
She urged trustees to elect Greg Gron, who has been on the board since 2001 and is its longest-serving member.
"It is now your job to collaborate in the best interest of Lombard," Mueller told trustees. "Be accountable to your role, show humility and do what is best for the town of Lombard by voting in the senior trustee as acting village president."
The three who walked out of the meeting about 9:15 p.m. after Gron called for a recess were pushing for Gron to be elected. The vote they called failed by the same 3-3 tally it did two weeks ago, with Ware, Giagnorio and Gron in favor and Fitzpatrick, Breen and Wilson opposed. Giagnorio asked each trustee who opposed Gron to specify why.
"There must be something behind the scenes of why you wouldn't just transition the senior trustee. He's honest; he has integrity," Giagnorio said.
Fitzpatrick, Breen and Wilson said they objected to the assumption the longest-serving trustee is most qualified to lead. Breen said Gron is the only board member with whom he has not been able to establish a relationship since joining in spring 2011.
"I have never received a phone call from Greg Gron. He has promised my residents a particular vote and then flipped on them," Breen said. "I would never under any circumstances ever support Greg Gron."
The trio who opposed Gron tried to get the board to consider alternatives to finding consensus, such as whether they could agree on a second choice. The trio in favor of Gron rejected those ideas.
"We're at an impasse with suggestions," Giagnorio said. "I will not play any numbers games. This is not a casino."
Before the three trustees left, Wilson suggested one more option: nominating the newest trustee, Breen, to serve as acting president.
The board had rejected Gron, Fitzpatrick, Wilson and Ware at its last meeting. Giagnorio has not been nominated because he said he is running for village president in April. But Breen had not yet been considered.
Wilson, Fitzpatrick and Breen supported his nomination, but the voting blocs remained intact with Gron, Giagnorio and Ware casting "no" votes.
The issue can be discussed if trustees call a special meeting, otherwise it will be on the agenda for the third time at the board's next meeting, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 4 at village hall, 255 E. Wilson Ave.