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updated: 5/28/2014 11:42 PM

New Elgin council member appointed

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  • Rosamaria "Rose" Martinez is sworn in as the newest member of the Elgin City Council by Kane County Associate Judge Kathy Karayannis on Wednesday night.

       Rosamaria "Rose" Martinez is sworn in as the newest member of the Elgin City Council by Kane County Associate Judge Kathy Karayannis on Wednesday night.
    Elena Ferrarin | Staff Photographer

  • Elgin City Councilman John Steffen, left, shakes the hand of Rosamaria "Rose" Martinez shortly after she was appointed to a vacant seat on the Elgin City Council on Wednesday night.

       Elgin City Councilman John Steffen, left, shakes the hand of Rosamaria "Rose" Martinez shortly after she was appointed to a vacant seat on the Elgin City Council on Wednesday night.
    Elena Ferrarin | Staff Photographer

 
 

Rosamaria "Rose" Martinez was appointed to the Elgin City Council on Wednesday night after a discussion among council members that at times bordered on the vitriolic.

Mayor David Kaptain and council members Tish Powell, John Steffen, Carol Rauschenberger and Rich Dunne voted to appoint Martinez, a past commander of American Legion Post 57, to the seat vacated in March by Anna Moeller, now the state representative for 43rd District.

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Councilmen John Prigge, Toby Shaw and Terry Gavin cast the "no" votes, saying the seat shouldn't be filled until the April election.

Martinez, the first Hispanic council member in five years, "will help us as a council represent our entire community," Dunne said.

Powell agreed.

"We are obviously a very divided council, and the people of our community deserve representation. We need as many voices at the table representing this community as possible," she said.

Dunne also pointed out Elgin has one of the smallest councils per capita in the Fox Valley.

"Going a year longer without one more council member weakens us," he said.

Martinez works in the transportation department of Elgin Area School District U-46 and retired from working for the U.S. Postal Service in 2013.

Prigge said council members should be elected, not appointed.

Elgin residents "have been subjected to the cheapening of one of the most sacred rights in a free society -- a right to a public vote for people to represented," he said.

Prigge also claimed that the decision to appoint Martinez was premeditated among the five council members who voted "yes."

"Everybody on this dais owes an apology to the other 20 applicants for this position who were lured to believe they had even the whisper of a chance," he said.

Gavin called the process the worst "political theater" he's seen while in office.

He also criticized the staff time spent on the selection process and the $10,000 or so expense for Martinez's council salary.

Steffen objected to that.

"If we could calculate the cost of the staff time for the posturing, the pandering and the grandstanding, I think some of us would be paying a larger bill," Steffen said.

Steffen also said that the interviewees were shown disrespect by opposing council members during closed session.

Gavin replied to Steffen by saying, "When you decide you want to respect me, you'll get the same respect back."

Rauschenberger called the attitude of opposing council members "a tyranny of the minority."

"The majority of the board has spoken and the minority is trying to overturn what we say," she said.

Ruling by majority is what democracy is all about, Kaptain said.

Kaptain also criticized Prigge for telling the Daily Herald which four finalists were chosen in executive session, which was disrespectful to the other applicants, he said.

Shaw said he opposed any appointment mainly because he knew it would be divisive.

"I knew it would be very political and it would draw us as a council even farther apart than together," he said.

After she was sworn in by Kane County Associate Judge Kathy Karayannis, Martinez thanked fellow council members for making the council more reflective of Elgin, which is about 44 percent Hispanic.

"I also understand that I have a great challenge ahead of me. I pledge to give the best of me using the leadership skills and experience I learned in the many years I served my country and I served my community," she said. "I hope to exceed your expectations and fulfill the duties of my office with respect, dignity and responsibility."

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