Winnetka, News

Winnetka Park Board has same president, new vice president following annual meeting

Typically a routine session, the Winnetka Park Board of Commissioners’ annual meeting on Thursday to elect its officers resulted with one commissioner voting against the incumbent president for another term and a new vice president being selected over the incumbent candidate.

The Park Board’s annual meeting was held immediately following the commissioners’ regular meeting Thursday evening, May 23.

Codo re-elected, but Root objects

Commissioner Christina Codo, who served as the board’s president for the past year, was re-elected to a second term, but it wasn’t a unanimous vote, with Commissioner Colleen Root voting in opposition.

Root was censured last month by a 5-2 majority of the Park Board, with only her and Cynthia Rapp dissenting. The censure came after 21 incidents in which Root allegedly violated the Park Board’s code of ethics.

In a prepared statement, Root said it was a “difficult decision” for her to not support Codo, but said there were a number of reasons why she couldn’t support the president for another term.

Root told Codo, as president, “it was your duty to communicate with all members, even when there was a significant difference on a particular project.”

She specifically accused Codo of not communicating with two commissioners, apparently referring to herself and Rapp, about the censure.

“And I hope that, as you move forward in this upcoming year, that you’re going to improve that communication and that you recognize that (in) your role as president, you’re one commissioner among seven, not one commissioner among five,” Root said.

Root also accused Codo of enabling the harassment of commissioners during meetings.

She concluded her statement by saying that Codo had an opportunity to “move this district forward in a positive way to help this community heal” last year, and she hopes that will happen this year.

Codo did not respond other than to thank Root for her statement.

Hemmings is vice president over incumbent Lussen

Commissioner Eric Lussen started off Thursday as the Park Board’s vice president, but by the end of the evening, the title was given to another commissioner.

First-term Commissioner James Hemmings, who joined the board in 2023, was unanimously elected vice president over Lussen.

The incumbent was nominated by Commissioner Jeff Tyson, but that nomination was quickly followed by Hemmings’, who was supported by Commissioner Warren James.

When Codo called for a vote to elect Lussen as vice president, Tyson made a motion. But no other commissioner offered a second, effectively ending the incumbent’s tenure as vice president.

Hemmings, on the other hand, received the support of all commissioners, including Lussen.

As there was no discussion among the commissioners, it is unclear why Lussen didn’t get support for a second term as the board’s vice president.

In addition to voting on the new officers for the next year, commissioners confirmed Park District Executive Director Shannon Nazzal as the board’s secretary, Superintendent of Finance Jim Crocker as board treasurer and law firm Ancel Glink as the board’s counsel.

Liaison assignments were also given out, with every commissioner except Root receiving one. Because of the censure, Root is not allowed to represent the Park Board to the public or other entities. 

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Peter Kaspari

Peter Kaspari is a blogger and a freelance reporter. A 10-year veteran of journalism, he has written for newspapers in both Iowa and Illinois, including spending multiple years covering crime and courts. Most recently, he served as the editor for The Lake Forest Leader. Peter is also a longtime resident of Wilmette and New Trier High School alumnus.

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