OAKWOOD — Alleged illegal activities by trustees violating the Illinois Open Meetings Act and the micromanagement of village business have led Oakwood’s village president of the last 18 months to resign.
Heather McCarty tendered her resignation at the board’s study session this week. Trustee Ferrell Stroh also resigned.
It marked the second resignation of an area village president this summer. In July, Homer’s Jeremy Richards stepped down, after which the board appointed Trustee Jim White to succeed him.
McCarty issued a statement that said frustration working with the village board, despite her experience serving on other boards and running other operations, led to her decision.
“I have served as a board member for six years on our local school board,” she said. “I currently run two nonprofit organizations, Oakwood Area Food Pantry and CHD3 Foundation Inc., and I’m heavily involved as a board member of the international charity, The Hosanna Project. I have managed people in the finance industry for 20-plus years. It is my sincere regret that even with my vast board and leadership experience, I was unable to bring this group of elected officials together to work for the common good of Oakwood residents.”
McCarty gave as one example a trustee who was elected who made promises to lower water rates despite the village’s water system being owned and operated by a private company — Utilities Inc.
She said the same trustee made “unnerving implications about some village employees, trustees and former mayors on social media while campaigning.”
McCarty said because of those statements, few village staff or board members were looking forward to working with that trustee.
But over time, McCarty said, the trustee was able to ally with a group of trustees who have allegedly been meeting to coordinate votes, which “is an obvious violation of the Open Meetings Act, for their own personal agenda.”
McCarty said she has tried unsuccessfully to remind trustees not to micromanage staff, make promises to residents and be involved in complex village projects.
One attempt to rectify the problem involved the village paying the executive director of the Illinois Municipal League to conduct a self-evaluation session, which she said most of the board rejected as mere suggestions and not directives.