A former DuPage County Board member has been named the county's next representative on the embattled Metra board.
County board members on Tuesday confirmed John Zediker's appointment to the Metra board of directors. The 41-year-old Naperville resident fills the seat formerly held by Paul Darley, who stepped down in late July.
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Zediker said after the vote that he was "humbled and honored" to gain the support of the county board.
"I really do look forward to the challenges ahead," he said. "We have our work cut out for us, but I think I'm up for the task."
Metra has been under fire since spring, when former CEO Alex Clifford issued a memo to the board accusing two top directors, who have since resigned, of conspiring to oust him because he rejected political pressure over jobs from lawmakers. The board in June approved a much-criticized separation agreement with Clifford that could cost more than $718,000, not including more than $300,000 in related expenses for legal and PR consultants.
County board Chairman Dan Cronin said he chose Zediker for the Metra board opening because he believes he has the ability to deal with the pressures and expectations of the job.
"I value his judgment and his expertise," Cronin said. "I have no doubt there will be no learning curve with John Zediker. He will immerse himself immediately."
Cronin said the "crisis atmosphere" at Metra and the political climate that exists in Springfield meant he needed to select someone who has "a level of sophistication in the public sector as well as the private sector."
Zediker, a Republican, is the chief operating officer and a partner at the real estate consulting firm of Ruettiger, Tonelli and Associates. He has master's degrees in economic geography and in business administration.
He served on the DuPage County Board from 2009 to 2012 and was director of Naperville's Transportation, Engineering and Development Department from 2001 to 2002. He also worked as a planner for DeKalb County.
When asked why he applied for the Metra position, Zediker said, "I thought I had the right mix of experience in the public and private sectors to lend a hand and be part of the solution."
Many county board members voiced support Zediker before Tuesday's vote. Still, some raised questions about the selection process.
Cronin said he picked Zediker after reviewing applications from about 30 residents.
"We're just trying to do the right thing here," Cronin said. "We're just trying to get the best people in the position to advance DuPage County's interests."
Zediker will be the second Naperville resident on the Metra board. Acting Chairman Jack Partelow also is from Naperville.
Metra directors are paid $15,000 a year. Zediker said he plans to donate his stipend to charity.