Wood Dale alderman resigns after city votes down housing foster care teens in senior living center
Wood Dale Alderman Sonny Sorrentino said Friday that he was "done with politics" after he angrily resigned in protest in the middle of a city council meeting Thursday.
In video footage of the meeting online Friday, Sorrentino, a Ward 3 alderman since 2019, can be heard swearing. The audio cuts out in the middle of a roll-call vote on an agenda item related to allowing teens in foster care to be housed at a senior living facility -- a plan that Sorrentino supported but was voted down.
With the sound missing, Sorrentino can be seen gathering up his items and flinging his nameplate to the floor. Sorrentino then exited the council chambers with several people who provided supportive public comment on the issue earlier in the meeting.
In a phone interview Friday, Sorrentino expressed his frustration with many Wood Dale aldermen who voiced concern that the senior living facility in the future might be turned over entirely to house foster care youth. Sorrentino also reaffirmed his decision to officially begin the resignation process.
Sorrentino said he was trying to speak up and cast his own vote on a zoning issue regarding The Radcliff, a senior living center at 276 E. Irving Park Road. Plans called for renovating and securing the fourth floor of the six-story building to house up to 60 youth ages 14 to 20 from the Illinois foster system.
Sorrentino said he was incorrectly advised earlier to recuse himself from the city council debate and vote because there was concern that he might have been in violation of Illinois' Open Meetings Act when he had reached out to other aldermen when the amendment was previously before advisory city commissions.
Representatives with Radcliff and Chicago-based Le Penseur Youth & Family Services Inc. Mission had been seeking a special use amendment from the city to create a Radcliff Vocational Academy. Advocates touted the potential benefits of intergenerational engagement through structured volunteer or vocational programs while providing transitional living arrangements for DuPage County teens in the foster care system.
Sorrentino supported the proposal, citing his years of working in youth and family services jobs. Sorrentino also shared his own personal history as an adopted child who spent most of his youth at St. Vincent School, a military academy that he said "to me, was an orphanage."
While the Radcliff zoning amendment received a 4-2 vote recommendation in favor from Wood Dale's community development commission on June 27, the planning, zoning and building commission subsequently voted 7-0 not to recommend it.
Wood Dale's mayor, city clerk and acting city manager all declined to comment on Sorrentino's resignation, or to share the council's Thursday vote tally. Wood Dale City Attorney Patrick Bond confirmed on Friday that the council vote was 6-1 against the amendment, with only Ward 1 Alderman Randy Messina voting in favor of it.
"Messina was the only alderman up there who took it upon himself to do any research," said Sorrentino, adding that an opportunity was lost to help both seniors and foster youth.
"I'm not giving up," said Sorrentino about his future youth and family services advocacy work. "I just won't wear an alderman's shirt. That's for a fact. "