GENEVA – Mayor Kevin Burns called out 5th Ward Alderman Tom Simonian on an alleged ethics violation when the alderman did not recuse himself from discussion and voting Feb. 13 on a petition from local developer Joe Stanton, with whom Simonian has a business relationship.
Simonian is running against Burns for mayor in the April 4 consolidated election.
“Ethics laws require an elected official to disclose any and all business relationships he or she has with a petitioner seeking approval before the city,” Burns said after the meeting. “Tonight was a flagrant violation of ethics rules, and what we witnessed was disheartening on multiple levels.”
Simonian should have recused himself both from the discussion and the vote, Burns said.
The same night, 3rd Ward Alderman Mary Seno recused herself by leaving the room for both the discussion and vote on a petition from Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital, where she is employed as a nurse.
Stanton is aiding Simonian’s campaign by doing printing jobs and by serving as an advisor, Simonian said.
Stanton's petition is to build three houses on an 1.13-acre development at the southwest corner of Kaneville and Burgess roads. He sought a waiver from having to put in sidewalks along the south side of Kaneville Road and along the west side of Burgess Road because they would not connect to an existing sidewalk.
During two votes on the issue at the Committee of the Whole meeting Feb. 13, Simonian voted present and to abstain. Burns said his responses count toward the majority vote, which in both cases recommended that Stanton get the waiver on the sidewalks.
Simonian said he voted present and to abstain because he thought he was supposed to do it that way.
“I was trying to be transparent,” Simonian said. “I was trying to make sure I did not – in any way, shape or form – vote on the issue.”
Simonian said he did not know if Burns was right or wrong about the recusal requirement, but that he would speak with his attorney about it.
“If he’s right, I’ll apologize,” Simonian said. “And if not, I’ll entertain all the options I have available to me to address it."
Simonian said Burns’ comments about his votes and not recusing himself were “nothing other than spite because Joe decided not to support him in this term.”
Final action on Stanton's sidewalk waiver request is scheduled to be taken by the City Council on Feb. 21.