Lombard's opposing blocs of trustees voted Tuesday night to split the remainder of the late Village President William J. "Bill" Mueller's term, with one member from each faction serving as acting village president for 3½ months.
Trustee Peter Breen will serve as acting president until Jan. 16, 2013. Trustee Bill Ware will fill the role from Jan. 17, 2013, to May 2, 2013, when the person next elected by the public will be sworn in as village president.
The agreement hinges on commitments from Breen and Ware that each will not exercise his legal right to name himself village president permanently.
Trustees approved the plan to split the remainder of Mueller's term 6-0, breaking the gridlock of 3-3 ties that lasted more than a month.
"I'm not crazy about this decision because it looks like there are still two sides. I don't think there are. I think this one decision has divided us," said Trustee Zachary Wilson, who supported splitting the term anyway because "it seems to be the best compromise to move forward."
Trustees first removed Wilson and Keith Giagnorio from consideration because they plan to run for village president in April. Each group of trustees then struck one name from the other group.
Breen was left standing from the group including Breen, Wilson and Trustee Laura Fitzpatrick. Ware was the remaining choice from the bloc including Ware, Giagnorio and Trustee Greg Gron.
"There should be no declaration of winners or losers with this compromise," Giagnorio said. "It's fair for both sides."
In the same 6-0 vote, the board struck two sections from Lombard's village code, removing the procedure that made the senior standing trustee automatically president pro tem during a temporary absence or illness of the village president. That procedure had Gron serving as president pro tem while Mueller was hospitalized, but the succession plan stopped when Mueller died Aug. 18.
Breen said he, Wilson and Fitzpatrick wanted to create a succession plan by which the board would vote every two years on who should be president pro tem when the elected leader is temporarily unable. But trustees could not come to consensus, he said, as even agreeing on the split of the acting president term was a challenge.
"This process was not pretty, nor was it clean, but it was transparent in that you got to see the deliberation," Breen said.
He and Fitzpatrick expressed disappointment over a move they say made reaching a decision even more difficult -- the decision of Gron, Giagnorio and Ware to walk out of the last village board meeting, preventing any action from being taken.
"I will commit to staying here and working out every single battle we have," said Fitzpatrick, who called the walkout "unprofessional and unethical."
"I'll do my best to achieve consensus for good policy at every turn."
Trustees approved new leadership in a meeting that lasted about 35 minutes in front of about 30 people.
"I do believe the board is acting in the best interests of the village to move forward," Ware said as the board recessed briefly before moving to executive session to discuss several pieces of business. "We do have a government to run and we will now be able to run it."