Appointment of former Mount Prospect trustee leads to complaints about lack of diversity

Mount Prospect Mayor Paul Hoefert appointed former political rival William Grossi to a seat on the village's finance commission this week, a move that drew criticism from those calling for more diversity on the town's volunteer commissions.

Hoefert cited the accounting credentials and educational background of Grossi, a former village trustee who ran against Hoefert for mayor in the spring, for his appointment

But Trustees Peggy Pissarreck and Terri Gens voted against it, saying Hoefert missed an opportunity to appoint a qualified woman or a person of color instead.

"I am troubled that you have passed over the opportunity to appoint a female person of color with a law degree and a regulatory background who expressed interest months ago," Pissarreck said.

Finance commission member Yulia Bjekic also was critical of the appointment.

"I feel we are past the point of walking the talk on diversity, equity and inclusion. We talk about it, and you continue to appoint and reappoint Caucasian males to commissions, and that is unfortunate," she said.

However, Hoefert said the candidate mentioned by Pissarreck expressed interest in the finance commission specifically only two weeks ago, while Grossi applied in May.

Trustee Colleen Saccotelli, who supported the appointment, cited Grossi's past work on the village's audit committee and his "tremendous experience and institutional knowledge."

Also voting in favor were Trustees John Matuszak and Richard Rogers. Trustee Augie Filippone abstained.

Former Trustee Michael Zadel also defended the appointment.

"The finance commission is, in fact, one of the most diverse commissions that we have," he said. "There are not all white Caucasians who have been appointed to this commission over the years."

Pissarreck noted that Hoefert previously had indicated he would slow future appointments while the village reviews the makeup of its boards and commissions. She said she would like to see the board make headway on that review "before we make any new appointments."

She said there needs to be a recruitment strategy that makes residents aware that seats are open.

Hoefert said he has slowed appointments, but there was an urgency to fill the open seat on the finance commission, which advises the board on a regular basis.

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