Rolling Meadows mayor breaks tie to confirm council appointment

Rolling Meadows Mayor Joe Gallo voted to break the tie of a divided city council to confirm his appointment of a new alderman who already is facing a challenge in the spring election.

Karen McHale, president of the Plum Grove Creek Neighborhood Association, is the new alderman representing Ward 1 on the city's west side, following a contentious city council debate and 4-3 vote Tuesday night.

Ward 3 Alderman Kevin O'Brien sought to delay the confirmation vote to January over Gallo's refusal to provide contact information for McHale, in hopes of a brief chat or email exchange with her before the vote.

"One of the main principles that I ran on was for collaboration. I thought that many of my peers thought the same way because we were all concerned the council has been too contentious over the last several years. ... I looked forward to talking to the appointee and also my supporting vote for that as well," O'Brien said. "I just was a little disappointed by the fact that we weren't given the opportunity for that, through no fault of her own. (It's) just not sitting right with me for that context and foundation of collaboration that I'm trying to bring."

Gallo said he didn't provide McHale's contact information to O'Brien or other aldermen because of the appointment process of Ward 4 Alderman Jenifer Vinezeano in July 2019. Gallo said when he provided Vinezeano's information as a courtesy, it led to "disrespectful behavior."

"Had things gone differently with the 4th Ward appointment, I would have no problem sharing the information, but unfortunately I cannot do it selectively and hand you over the information and withhold it from somebody else who might use something out of poor taste," Gallo told O'Brien.

"When I extended the courtesy before, it turned into trouble, and I am not interested in turning things into trouble for another resident who wants to volunteer their time," Gallo added.

Gallo voted with Vinezeano, Lara Sanoica and Nick Budmats to confirm the new alderman; O'Brien, John D'Astice and Jon Bisesi voted no.

The appointment follows the abrupt Nov. 24 resignation of longtime Alderman Mike Cannon, who said he disagreed with the "leadership" of the council over the last year and a half - the time since Gallo's election as mayor.

Gallo said on his Facebook page Wednesday that McHale "will bring balance, fresh ideas, and focus on the days ahead while representing the voice of the 1st Ward."

In addition to involvement with her neighborhood association, McHale is a member of Holy Family Parish, where she volunteers as a catechist teaching youth faith classes.

On Monday, she was one of two Ward 1 residents to file nominating petitions to get on the April ballot. Also filing was former Planning and Zoning Commission Vice Chairman and two-time mayoral candidate Dave Whitney, who ran against Gallo and two others last year. Gallo decided not to reappoint Whitney to the zoning panel earlier this year.

The Ward 1 winner will serve the remaining two years on Cannon's term.

In Ward 4, Vinezeano will be challenged by Brad Judd, who held the seat for eight years until Gallo defeated him in 2017. Gallo appointed Vinezeano when he became mayor in 2019.

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Kevin O'Brien
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