Has the long-running dispute regarding the appointment of Kankakee's next police chief harmed the city?
At least one elected official not connected to the Kankakee City Council or its administration believes it is.
Angela Shea, a Kankakee School Board member, told city council members and the administration at Monday's city council meeting that the controversy revolving around whether acting chief Price Dumas should be the city's newest chief should be over.
She said for the sake of Kankakee, the time has come to move on and bring a new person forward.
Shea is not the first official outside the city council to weigh in on Dumas, but she is the first to say he shouldn't be the chief. A Kankakee resident, Shea said the time has come for Mayor Chasity Wells-Armstrong to conduct an extended search.
Shea explained the police chief issue is the top topic of discussion and little else is being done by the council.
"This stand-off has been going for over seven months," Shea stated in a prepared statement. "You (Wells-Armstrong) can't keep blaming (former Kankakee Police Chief Larry) Regnier for resigning. When there is a party change, resignations after elections are very common.
"You can't keep blaming city council members for voting against your candidate. They have valid reasons for their votes."
Shea said the time has long come to move on from Dumas.
"I sincerely hope that very soon, you will stop seeing their no votes as a challenge to your authority and realize the damage this stand-off is doing to our entire community.
"Don't let this be the hill we all die on," she said.
Wells-Armstrong did not debate the issue with Shea on Monday. Administrations have rarely entered into debates with speakers during the public comment portion of the meeting.
On Tuesday, however, in response to questions from The Journal, the mayor said she continues to stand behind her choice of Dumas.
"If leadership means acquiescing to what my opponents want, I am not that type of leader," she wrote. "I do not respond to the cheers of a crowd."
The mayor said numerous residents support her selection of Dumas.
"With that being said, I made my selection based on what our community needs — fresh eyes that were directed toward partnerships with stakeholders," she wrote. She said they have worked to reduce crime, address the opioid epidemic, partnered with the state's attorney to improve best practices and increased training.
"Clearly, none of those aforementioned areas indicate a lack of competence. This forces me to assess the motives of those opposing the leadership of this administration," she wrote.
"My position has not changed. At this time, I intend to stand by my selection of Price Dumas ... and look forward to his permanent appointment."
Dumas, appointed as interim chief on June 2 following the resignation of then-interim chief Robin Passwater, has been brought up for vote to become the city's police chief at three council meetings. Each time his appointment has been rejected.
At a special city council meeting on Jan. 16, prior to the regularly scheduled meeting that night, two votes were taken. By identical 8-6 votes, the Dumas appointment was voted down that night. His appointment also was voted down on June 19 and Aug. 21.
Shea said that while Wells-Armstrong believes it is her right to continue to appoint Dumas, she believes more importantly it is the mayor's duty to city residents to be a leader and "find a compromise and let us all get back to moving Kankakee forward."
Ald. Carl Brown, D-7, who has supported Dumas on each of his appointment votes, agreed with Shea's assessment that the city council is stuck on this issue.
"Everyone want to move on from this issue, but it's not my choice. It's the mayor's choice," he said Tuesday.
Brown said he has not discussed the Dumas appointment with the mayor. "This is still her choice," he said.
Brown said he believes the city is being harmed by this ongoing struggle, however. "People from the outside look at what's happening as not a stable environment," he said.
Ald. David Crawford agreed the issue has been divisive.
"But this has never been a race issue. This has always been about qualifications and everyone knows he's not qualified," he said. "I'd love to see this come to an end soon too. But I don't see that happening."
After the meeting Shea was asked if she was overstepping her bounds making these comments.
"I don't give up my right to speak on city issues because I'm a school board member," Shea said. "I felt I needed to say something."
Shea noted she wanted to make her comments at the city council meeting because she wanted them placed into the record.
"We are in this holding pattern (in the city) because of this. The council has been clear. They want a search," she said.
Asked if she expected some type of political backlash because of her statement, she said that's certainly possible.
"If there is an effort to keep me off the school board, that would tell me a lot about the community and what it wants."