KANKAKEE — Angela Shea sought the Kankakee mayoral office this past election, but she was defeated in the Democratic Party primary.
While she didn’t become mayor, she has found her way into Kankakee City Hall as she has been tabbed as the city’s community liaison, a position which will pay her $55,000. Shea began her duties on Monday.
Mayor Chris Curtis said he was looking for someone to not just replace Jasmyne Humble as the community relations director for the city, but he wanted the role to be far more than putting out news releases, maintaining the city’s website and dealing with city events.
“I was looking for someone to actually be involved with our community stakeholders, someone working with council members, working with our neighborhood associations,” Curtis said. “I can’t be everywhere at all times.”
Curtis said the more he thought about the position, the more Shea stepped forward in his mind.
“I believe she will be a great fit. She knows so many people in this community, which will allow her to hit the ground running,” he said.
The mayor was asked if Shea’s appointment had anything to do with her backing him in the consolidated election against then-Mayor Chasity Wells-Armstrong? He said it did not.
“She’s a natural fit for this,” he said.
He said he and Shea never discussed any role or position for Shea during the campaign. He said Shea was already employed at Cigna and believed she was more than happy with her career.
“There was never a promise of a job. There was no political payback. It’s just the more I thought about this role, the more I came to believe she was that person,” he said.
Curtis said Shea has undisputed love for Kankakee and wants to help make a difference.
In addition to her mayoral run, Shea was a member of the Kankakee School Board. Her tenure there ended when she did not seek re-election in April.
“I was not at all anticipating this. I could not have imagined this a year-and-a-half ago,” she said in regards to when Curtis announced his campaign.
Regarding her endorsement of Curtis, she said when that came about she made it clear she wasn’t seeking any payback.
She said after being approached by Curtis with this liaison concept, she noted the more they discussed it, the more interested she became.
In regards to her various duties, she said the overarching theme will be building unity.
“We want to bring our community together. I believe that’s one of the biggest things we need. We are all different and we need to work on acceptance. That’s what we need to do.”
She said her role with the school district helped widen her eyes as to the needs of the community.
She will use that base of people she gained through her school board tenure, to bring about more community involvement.