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UPDATED: Elmhurst Mayor Pete DiCianni Has Hurdles if He Wins County Board Seat

DiCianni releases statement in response to state's attorney's opinion.

UPDATE Jan. 30, 4:45 p.m.

Elmhurst Mayor Pete DiCianni has released a statement via email in response to DuPage State's Attorney Robert Berlin's opinion regarding the ability to serve on two government boards that have contractual obligations to one another:

"While I have high respect for Robert Berlin, the DuPage County State's Attorney, I must admit I am not convinced of his recent opinion that, 'no member of a county board, during the term of office for which he or she is elected, may be appointed to, accept, or hold any[other] office…' There is not one court case that upholds his recent opinion. In fact, there are many mayors and municipal members that currently serve in dual capacities, both at the county and state levels, and are extremely effective and well-respected.  I am determined to prove I can serve effectively in both capacities, as Mayor of Elmhurst, and if elected, as county board member.  My dedication to public service and the communities within District Two is my motivation; accordingly, I will donate my mayoral salary to the City of Elmhurst if elected to the county board. I trust the voters will gather the facts they need to choose whom will best represent them in DuPage County.”

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EARLIER:

Although Elmhurst Mayor Pete DiCianni pledged to forgo his salary as mayor if he is elected to the higher-paying DuPage County Board, that might not be an option, according to city officials.

Elmhurst City Manager Jim Grabowski said city staff has not looked into whether or not the mayor can opt to not receive his annual stipend of $6,000.

When DiCianni announced his bid for an open District 2 County Board seat, he said he would continue to serve as mayor of Elmhurst but would not draw that salary while serving if he was also elected to the County Board. A County Board member draws a salary of $50,000.

DiCianni is one of eight candidates seeking one of the three District 2 spots on the board. The primary election is in March.

If DiCianni wins a seat on the County Board and city officials determine the mayor can forgo his salary, that action will impact his pension eligibility. As mayor DiCianni is eligible to draw a pension from the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund if he serves a minimum of 20 hours per week in his mayoral capacity. DiCianni signed an affidavit pledging to work the required hours, but if he gives up his salary he will not be able to pay into the pension plan.

“If he’s not being compensated then he couldn’t earn service,” said Linda Horell, an IMRF spokesperson.

Horell said he could certainly participate in the retirement plan as a member of the DuPage County Board. That would require another pledge to work at least 20 hours per week on county business. To qualify for the county pension plan elected officials are expected to perform at least 1,000 hours of county-related work annually for eight years. However, the elected officials don’t have to prove they meet the requirement. Neither the IMRF nor the county requires that they document their time.

However, Horell said that if DiCianni was elected to the board and was able to drop his mayoral salary, it would stand to reason that the eligibility affidavit would be moot.

There are no IMRF rules against a member holding simultaneous elected positions, Horell said. She said officials can hold multiple positions at the same time, but will only be eligible to draw a pension based on the highest paid position.  

As per his request, Patch posed multiple questions to DiCianni via email about his candidacy, including his pension and whether or not he believes he can faithfully serve constituents on two elected boards. DiCianni did not respond to the questions by the time this article was published.

Another obstacle for DiCianni’s serving on two government boards is DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin. On Jan. 20 Berlin issued a legal opinion that said DuPage board members cannot simultaneously hold another elected office with another government body that the board has a “contractual obligation with.”

“It follows that the existence of any contractual relationship between the county and another unit of local government would prevent a County Board member from taking advantage of this ‘safe harbor’ provision,” Berlin wrote.

If a locally elected official takes a seat on the County Board, Berlin said the candidate must resign the local office. 

DiCianni said precedents say otherwise.

“There are plenty of locally elected officials who hold higher office (in Illinois) at the same time,” DiCianni said, before asking that all other questions be submitted in writing.

Carla February 02, 2012 at 06:53 PM
When he ran for Mayor, Pete's brochures touted his paid and volunteer work through and within many fine organizations. IMO he appeared to have each of his fingers in different pies. Now IMO his TOES are ALSO wanting to get into different pies. With as long a resume as he's collecting, he should represent Elmhurst on a season/session of a reality tv show (read some of their contestants bios and you'll understand). Uh oh, maybe I just gave him another place for a toe?
Paul Guerino February 02, 2012 at 09:02 PM
What is a Pete. Is it a Democrat? Is it a Republican? Is it an Independent? Does he expect his sisters, who work for him, to run his printing business in Addison? Will he be able to give 20 hours a week to collect an Elmhurst pension? Will he be able to give 20 hours a week to collect his County pension? How many hours will he have left to run his business? How about his family life? I just am wondering out loud.
Jim Court February 03, 2012 at 02:00 PM
Paul, One reason I did not go into politics (other than being politically incorrect) or real estate is the fact that it takes so much time away from family relationships. That is a personal decision. I sure have the energy for politics or business. My perception of our Mayor is that he is highly energetic and could handle it. The other aspects such as conflict of interest, benefits, will play out in the court of public opinion, legal system, etc. I guess I am putting myself in his place as I share his interest in politics and his families interest in real estate. In economic bad times, I am also concerned about such things as a pension. While writing this a song came to mind, that I used to enjoy. The "Wanderer" by Dion. I kind of remember the line. I'm the kind of guy who likes to roam around, I am never in one place, I roam from town to town. Words I enjoyed, Perhaps a campaign theme song.
Dan February 03, 2012 at 03:34 PM
Jim, There are only 33 Mayors in DuPage County and 18 County board members. Why should two of these positions of influence be held by one individual? You seem to be the type of person who sees the value in listening to different perspectives. Isn't it better to have 51 different perspectives on these local issues instead of 50 or 49 if the other Mayor that is looking to hold dual roles wins. If you follow the local news I'm sure you have read about some of the issues that have happened in DuPage County that went astray because of lack of good oversight. There is the mismanagement of 10's of millions of funds by the DuPage Water Commission. The steering or misuse of 10's of millions by the DuPage Housing Authority. We have the DuPage Technology Park a one tenant industrial park with at least at one time very well paid official in charge. Although these examples aren't under the direct control of the DuPage County board I can guarantee you there are issues there that would benefit from improved oversight. There are good people out there who are willing to give the county board their full attention. Let's elect one person to one office. At least two members that are leaving say they are leaving so they have more time with their families and they aren't holding multiple elected positions. Doesn't that give you some idea at the time commitment it takes to do the job properly?
Jim Court February 03, 2012 at 07:12 PM
Dan, I completely understand your argument. You are right, I do try to see all sides of an argument. All I was doing doing was "walking in someone elses shoes," Because of high drive and energy I have sometimes taken on more than seems reasonable. Most of the times I succeed. Sometimes I fail. That is why public discourse and reasoned opinions are important. I admit that I do have concerns about an often manipulated voting public. I imagine that if I were ever in such a position, some would love me but maybe even more would hate me. Maybe if I was lucky, the opposite would be true. I always value your insights
Scott February 03, 2012 at 09:11 PM
Jim, I always respect your comments and understand your point. My issue would be that it is fine to stretch yourself, as you suggest you do, when it is primarily your own interest that is at stake. It's another matter however when thousands of people are relying on your ability to produce. In that case, if you do come up short, it is not just your own self interest that suffers, it is that of all those relying on you. I personally don't want to be subject to that risk.
Jim Court February 03, 2012 at 09:39 PM
Scott, You have a good point. The only person I ever put at risk is myself. I was basically relating to a personality type that thrives on challenges, is goal oriented, and motivated. Although I am frequently am in charge, I see it as leadership. I have no desire for power or control. Sometimes I wish I did. It might take me farther but at the same time, I am not willing to pay the price.
Jim Court February 03, 2012 at 09:41 PM
excuse the typo, the phone rang and I did not realize that I repeated myself.
LizW February 04, 2012 at 12:24 AM
Does anyone know why DiCianni represents District 1 on the stormwater committee? http://www.dupageco.org/County_Board_Committees/Stormwater_Committee/17810/
LizW February 04, 2012 at 01:51 AM
Thanks Dan. I understand they all represent the county as a whole to bring that perspective, but should the municipal members live within their own district? Or that doesn't matter?
Dan February 04, 2012 at 02:24 AM
I deleted my response once I checked the link you provided. It shows a municipality member for each district. I know he replaced our former Mayor on that commitee and maybe they didn't bother to check what district he lives in. You would think that you would have to live in the district that you represent similar to living in the district to be appointed to replace one of the out going board members. You bring up a interesting question.
LizW February 04, 2012 at 01:27 PM
Thanks again Dan. I always find your comments helpful. You are a very informed citizen and I respect your opinions on the Patch. It’s strange that he is currently listed and serving as a municipal member for District 1 but is running in District 2.
Darlene Heslop February 04, 2012 at 06:04 PM
city hall is in district 1...his address would be listed at 209 north york street.
LizW February 05, 2012 at 12:41 AM
Thanks Darlene. Always knowledgeable.
Paul Guerino February 05, 2012 at 10:58 PM
I received an invitation to Pete's fund raiser on Feb. 20th. When I looked at the envelope I wanted to laugh. It looks as if Pete hired Krizic's friend to give him a logo or symbol for his candidacy. There is that same shooting star that U205 has in reverse. I wonder how many people know that a shooting star has always been the sign of impending death, doom, or destruction. The most famous example of this is the Bayeux tapestry.William the Bastard is invading England. People point to the sky and there is a shooting star. The next thing King Harold has an arrow in his eye. William is now the Conqueror.
Darlene Heslop February 06, 2012 at 05:06 AM
his fundraiser is being called "the first annual chef fest"...however, the elmhurst hospital guild chef fest is in i believe its 11th or 12th year, and is, ironically, being held the thursday before his. they say that plagerism is the greatest form of flattery, but this is just a bit much. he at least could have called it something different, like "restaurant tasting".
Angel Diabolik February 21, 2012 at 03:18 AM
Mr. Guerino, I do not know what kind of faith you have, howvever I would like to inform you that the shooting star was, and is something positive for people that follow Christ. Also if you do not know Mr. DiCianni was not pro Krizic's. I am dissapointed that someone that thaught our children's at Emerson school could be so negative about ilfe.
Paul Guerino February 21, 2012 at 05:15 AM
Angel--- Reread my comments before you read my response to you. I said, " It looks as if Pete HIRED KRIZIC's FRIEND..." I never said he was her friend. The star of Bethlehem was a fixed star. The Magi used it like we use Polaris. My faith has been expressed through being a CCD teacher, Catholic school teacher, and Catholic school board president. In my younger days I was a member of The ICF, the Italian Catholic Federation. Go on line and look up shooting star. It talks about the negative symbolism it represents. Pete's star looks like it is wobbling. It looks like it can't stay on a straight path.
Paul Guerino February 21, 2012 at 05:57 AM
By the way I have 20 hours in art history. In our old 5th grade history book the Aztec emperor looks to the sky and there is a shooting star and Cortez appears. You know what happened to the Aztecs. Then we have the dinosaurs, some scientists think is was a shooting star that hit near the Gulf of Mexico that wiped them out. Look at the moon and you can see what happened to its surface. By the way there is Meteor Crater in Arizona. Shooting stars are bad news.
D L February 29, 2012 at 01:12 PM
Pete...just stop it ! It seems you are on a self-absorbed, ego trip resulting in gathering a second pension for your future. Keep your eye on your "home town" governing, and stop your quest to have more CONSTANT photo's of you EVERYWHERE in two public service positions !!!
G.Kravits March 01, 2012 at 01:09 PM
Thanks for bringing the signs to our attention. It looks like the Chase Bank branch on St Charles road realized they didn’t authorize DiCianni’s large political sign on their 'private' property. As of yesterday that sign was removed!
Doremus Jessup March 01, 2012 at 02:40 PM
There is also a sign at the former Brown's Chicken site, I think that is a location of a possible TIF district. Not sure if if violates any sign size codes.
Duke of York March 14, 2012 at 01:16 AM
Where was Pete last night at City Council? He wants ANOTHER elected position when he can't even live up to the committements he has already made? Giant Red Flag People.
Jim Court March 14, 2012 at 01:37 AM
Vote for Jim Court
Sean Johnders March 14, 2012 at 04:17 AM
Jim Court for cantankerous of the year!
G.Kravits March 15, 2012 at 04:11 AM
Maybe he was a hammerin more of them signs on vacant businesses.
Jim Court March 15, 2012 at 02:06 PM
Sean, Your comment could make me cantankerous ! Just kidding
Dan March 15, 2012 at 04:11 PM
I question Mr. Court's commitment to follow through with his campaign promise to end the "war on drugs". With a name like Court isn't it likely he has actually been benefiting from the court system and the "war on drugs"?
Jim Court March 15, 2012 at 08:11 PM
Lets be serious. I would never run for any office. My thought process definitely would not be considered mainstream enough. Campaign promise to end the "War on Drugs" I have no campaign but would most certainly try to end the war on drugs. A complete failure that only benefits the legal system and has done nothing to stem usage. It also results in much violence over control of turf wars and the money to be made. Look at Mexico and our inner cities. Only though education, treatment and social pressure will drug usage be reduced. It will never be eliminated. That does mean that I do not think that these substances are not detrimental. So is excessive play, shopping, overeating, gambling, the all of the other addictions that people pursue. You cannot be a politician and speak the truth. The public would never listen. I do not consider myself negative at all. I love our community and only offer ideas for its continued improvement. I love our Country and I love my way of life. My overly active mind compels me to express myself. Actually I should have been a lawyer. Late night ads on some bad channel. " Call Court for your legal needs, try us and you be the "Judge".
Alan Brinkmeier March 19, 2012 at 08:01 PM
Dan just last year an Illinois appellate court ruled on a similar matter. See below. At least three Illinois Attorney Generals (Ward, Burris and Madigan) have written about incompatibility of office as a matter or law, in addition to the Legal Ruling of State's Attorney Bob Berlin issued in January The Appellate Court in the casePeople ex rel. Anita Alvarez v. Keith Price, 2011 WL 947130 (1st Dist. 2011), affirmed the holding of the Circuit Court ousting defendant and Harvey resident Keith Price from the elected offices of alderman, school board member and park commissioner. The Court first noted that public offices are considered incompatible in those situations where a state statute specifically prohibits holding both offices, and also in those situations “where the duties of either office are such that the holder of the office cannot in every instance, properly and fully, faithfully perform all the duties of the other office.” People v. Claar, 293 Ill. App. 3d 211, 215, 227 Ill. Dec. 307, 310, 687 N.E.2d 557, 560 (1997). The Court further noted that instead of examining whether there has been an actual conflict in the two offices in which a person is serving, Illinois courts look to whether there will eventually be a conflict. The Court then looked at the myriad statutory contractual and other relationships that were possible between the city, the school district, the park district and library district, and determined that the relationships were incompatible.

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