MARISSA, Ill. – An Illinois mayor who unexpectedly resigned from his elected post earlier this summer has been hired by the same village, making tens of thousands of dollars more in a part-time position.
Chad Easton, former mayor of Marissa, Illinois, has been appointed as the village administrator.
Easton said there’s no shady business going on and offered to resign during Monday night’s Board of Trustees meeting.
“It is not my intent to have FOX 2 News at every one of our meetings,” Easton said. “I’m doing a job that I was asked to do by the board. If you don’t see fit and don’t want that, I will tender my resignation.”
While Easton offered to resign, no one took him up on his offer. That moment came after he officially resigned as mayor of Marissa earlier this year.
“I’m resigning for a couple of reasons,” Easton told the FOX Files in July. “I want to be able to spend more time with my family.”
In July, while discussing a flooding issue, Easton said he did not want to be the ‘bad guy’ on village issues anymore.
“If you have a plan and this is what somebody decides, I want to be there to help implement the plan and see it through,” Easton previously said.
Fast-forward a few months, Easton is village administrator. The FOX Files caught up with him right before Monday’s regularly scheduled board meeting.
“I was a little hesitant, but I was open to what they had to say,” Easton said on Monday.
Easton’s appointment as village administrator comes after approval from the village board of trustees and Acting Mayor Jeremy Embrich.
“The best person for that position, to be able to hit the floor running, was him,” Embrich said.
Embrich said he asked Easton to be village administrator a few weeks after his appointment as acting mayor.
Embrich said he got the idea during a recent contract negotiation that he could not participate in because of a conflict of interest.
“There’s a lot to the job. Especially right now with all the contracts, fire department, inner-government land swap with that, finding a new place for the street workers, updating the sewer plant, there’s just a lot,” Embrich said.
Easton was in the first year of his second term as mayor before calling it quits. His elected-mayoral salary cost taxpayers $6,560 a year. As the part-time village administrator, Easton will make $36,000 a year.
“That’s what the board comes to me with,” Easton said. “I hope it was brought to your attention, though, that this position was a full-time position at one point, with the administration before mine.”
Courtney Dagner has lived in Marissa all her life and attended Monday night’s board meeting.
“Something’s going on, and we’re scratching each other’s back,” Dagner said.
Dagner said she has no personal issues with anyone in Marissa but said something seemed off about Easton’s sudden resignation and his newly-appointed job a few weeks later. She calls it backdoor politics.
“You were voted into that position,” Dagner said.
“So now we’re not going to be in the elected position, but we’re going to go into that appointed position. It just doesn’t send the right perspective to this community.”
Easton said the roles are vastly different because he will only report to the Board of Trustees and mayor.
The acting mayor said the new position will be reconsidered by the Village Board of Trustees again in one year.
“I protected the village by doing it year by year, so that way, in a year, if we see we don’t need it, we don’t have to fill that position,” Embrich said.
According to village documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, Easton will serve as the economic development director. He will oversee grants, special projects, the sewer plant, street workers, and so on. The majority of tasks Easton will do now are those he previously did as mayor.
“You got to figure in the fact that I don’t have my phone calls from residents 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This is more along the lines of a regular job,” Easton said.
Embrich said the position of mayor can be overwhelming, and he needed Easton to ensure tasks got handled.
“The information that he’s resigning to spend more time with family – was that 100% accurate? I don’t know. Was he tired of not being able to please everybody? I think that comes into play too. Now, when you look back, he doesn’t have to please everybody. Now that’s on my shoulders,” Embrich said. “His heart is in the community. He’s shown that in the last five years.”
Easton said there was no prior conversation about him filling the village administrator position prior to him resigning as mayor.
“Completely 100% on everything that I believe in, that conversation never took place,” Easton said.