If a court ruling is made as expected Monday, it might serve as a precursor of the Bradley mayoral election which will be settled when voters go to the polls on April 6.
At stake is the resolution of the dispute between the Village of Bradley and the Kankakee County Convention & Visitors Bureau over which side can rightfully claim $500,000 in hotel tax money collected in the village since April 22, 2019. The bulk of the bureau’s $900,000 annual budget is funded through this type of tax.
The bureau argues the money belongs in its coffers because of a contract approved by the former village mayor and board on the aforementioned date. Bradley argues the contract is invalid because the new and existing board should have been sworn in before the vote was taken.
In the immediate aftermath, former Mayor Bruce Adams resigned, citing health reasons. Mike Watson, the trustee who led opposition to the contract, was chosen by fellow trustees as the successor.
Watson has maintained a Bradley first message since, and makes no bones about the fact that he has little use for an agreement which relies on Bradley, the hub of area hotels, to provide the majority of the bureau’s funding.
Lori Gadbois, who leads the Citizens United Party ticket and is viewed as Watson’s top challenger in the mayoral race, has criticized him for promoting isolationism rather than regionalism. As all other principal county communities, including county government itself, are willing members of the bureau, Bradley’s opposite approach could be considered exhibit A of her argument.
If Circuit Court Associate Judge Scott Sliwinski rules in favor of the bureau, it could be considered a victory for Gadbois. If the judge rules in favor of Bradley, the same applies for Watson.
Ultimately, Bradley voters will decide who runs the town for the next four years. But the judge’s decision could influence their choices.