Sources: Kennison among Joliet city manager finalists
By Bob Okon firstname.lastname@example.org August 31, 2013 4:56PM
Updated: October 2, 2013 6:41AM
A Republican who ran an explosive campaign for county executive in 2008 is one of the finalists for the Joliet city manager’s job.
Dan Kennison will be among the candidates brought in to be interviewed, city hall sources confirmed.
Kennison of Joliet has no experience in government administration, although he has been a business executive. He has been involved in Republican election campaigns and has been a potential candidate since his failed bid for Will County executive. His wife, Victoria, is a county judge.
He and partners ran a company, Premier Medical Industries, that was sold in 2001.
Kennison could not be immediately reached for comment.
He made a list of 12 potential city manager candidates selected by Voorhees Associates, the firm hired by the city to conduct the search, one source said. Mayor Thomas Giarrante and the city council then narrowed the finalists to five, including Kennison. Since then, two more candidates have been added to the list because some council members thought they merited interviews. Sixty-four people have applied for the job.
The interviews will be conducted Sept. 11 and 16. A new city manager could be selected by early October.
One source said Kennison made the list because he is a local candidate, not because of his political activity.
News that Kennison had made the cut spread through government and political circles after the list of candidates was narrowed down Monday.
Kennison ran an aggressive campaign in 2008, accusing Will County Executive Larry Walsh of Chicago-style politics and playing a role in an FBI inquiry into Walsh’s chief of staff, the late Matt Ryan. The inquiry, which occurred in the midst of the election and got media attention, did not result in any charges. Ryan at the time said FBI agents told him they believed they were “set up” to do the inquiry.
At the time, Kennison also accused Walsh of play-to-pay politics, accusing his election opponent of benefiting from farm leases and campaign contributions from CenterPoint Properties, which is developing an industrial park in Joliet and built another industrial park in Elwood.
Walsh angrily denied Kennison’s accusations, which had little impact on the voters. Walsh was re-elected with 60 percent of the vote.
The Walsh landslide likely was helped by a Democratic ticket headed by President Barack Obama, who handily won his first term in office. But Walsh also said he believed Kennison’s accusations had backfired. Still smarting from the rough campaign after his victory, Walsh called the assorted allegations from his opponent “a stain on my reputation.”
The election also exposed Kennison’s volatile divorce from his first wife in 2001. Kennison accused Walsh of feeding information from the divorce file to a short-lived weekly newspaper that went out of business after the election.
Kennison’s second wife was named as associate judge in September 2011 by Republican circuit judges at a time when Kennison was considering another run for county executive. Kennison did not run in the 2012 race.
Walsh also could not be reached for comment. Walsh and current City Manager Thomas Thanas work on issues affecting both city and county government, including future county buildings in downtown Joliet. Walsh has publicly commented about his disappointment about Thanas’s departure.
Thanas gave his resignation in June after one of at least a few conflicts between the city manager and some council members over the last two years. Thanas also resigned in March but opted to stay as the city council rejected the resignation.