Des Plaines City Council appointed two aldermen to serve consecutively as acting mayor until the middle of April at a meeting on Monday. First Ward Alderman Patricia Haugeberg took over the acting mayor position from Eighth Ward Alderman Michael Charewicz, who filled the role since being appointed Jan. 7.
Haugeberg will serve as acting mayor until the beginning of the next city council meeting on Feb. 19, at which time Fourth Ward Alderman Dick Sayad will become acting mayor, according to the approved plan. Sayad will serve as acting mayor until the beginning of the city council meeting on April 15.
Aldermen voted, 5-3, in favor of the plan for Haugeberg and Sayad to fill the vacancy left by former Mayor Marty Moylan, who resigned Dec. 31.
Haugeberg thanked the aldermen for the appointment.
“It’s an honor, and truly a pleasure,” Haugeberg said.
Second Ward Alderman John Robinson, Third Ward Alderman Matt Bogusz and Seventh Ward Alderman Dan Wilson voted against the plan.
Robinson said, while he liked and respected Haugeberg very much, he was not in favor of her serving as acting mayor.
"I feel it's inappropriate to have somebody that's running for public office sitting in the position of acting mayor," Robinson said. "I feel it gives them a leg up in their campaigning, and gives them free television time."
Haugeberg is a candidate to represent the First Ward in the consolidated election in April.
After being sworn in, acting Mayor Haugeberg said 93 years ago her grandfather moved his family — her father, his four brothers and their sister, Haugeberg’s Aunt Marilyn — to Des Plaines.
Haugeberg said her aunt still lived in Des Plaines, and had tried to convince her to run for mayor for two years. Her aunt finally stopped, Haugeberg said, after she realized she preferred being First Ward Alderman.
“Tonight really is a perfect night for me to sit in this chair because tomorrow is my aunt’s 92nd birthday,” Haugeberg said. “My daughters have a problem deciding what to get me for my birthday, so happy birthday, Aunt Marilyn.”
Before making a motion to go into closed session to discuss bargaining with unions and pending litigation, Sayad said he was happy to support Haugeberg’s appointment as acting mayor.
“To our first woman mayor in the City of Des Plaines history to sit up there, I congratulate you, and I’m happy to be in this audience addressing you as the mayor for our city,” Sayad said.
Before council members voted on the appointment plan, Wilson asked why Haugeberg and Sayad were selected, and not other aldermen, to serve as acting mayor.
Fifth Ward Alderman James Brookman, who made the motion to appoint Haugeberg and Sayad as acting mayor, said he chose Sayad to serve the majority of the time because he was the most senior city council member, aside from Sixth Ward Alderman Mark Walsten, who is a candidate for mayor in the consolidated election.
Walsten said he would not serve as acting mayor before the election because he did not think that would be appropriate.
Brookman said it wasn’t a rule, but, typically, in the past the most senior alderman has served as acting mayor.
Wilson, who served as mayor during a city council meeting when Moylan was absent on Dec. 17, said he did not have any input on the selection of an acting mayor, besides his chance to vote “no.”
“So I will exercise that chance tonight, and I am sorry this was all done behind closed doors,” Wilson said.
Sayad interrupted Wilson.
“Your doors are closed too,” Sayad said.
The spirit of the open meetings act is to do things in an open and transparent way, Wilson said.
“This is anything but that,” Wilson said.
Des Plaines City Council members disagreed about how to best-handle filling the vacancy at a city council meeting on Jan. 22.
At the meeting on Jan. 22, Brookman said aldermen that served as acting mayor would have an opportunity to learn more about the office and gain valuable knowledge.
Charewicz said the primary function of the acting mayor was to run meetings. During his time as acting mayor, Charewicz oversaw two petition objections as chairman of the three-member Des Plaines Electoral Board. Charewicz said the acting mayor was also responsible for signing a variety of official documents, including items voted on by city council.
It was not clear on Monday who would serve as mayor of Des Plaines from April 15 until the beginning of May, when the newly-elected mayor would be sworn in.