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Local News

Some county positions hired ‘at will,’ require no posting or interviews

It’s not unusual for there to be a lot of new hires after an elected official takes over.

Some jobs fall under union rules, but other managerial positions are hired at will, which means they can be terminated by either party at any time. These high-level jobs may also not have to be advertised, county officials said.

Some jobs may be more political in nature, such as the new hire for Will County Board Chief of Staff Moira Dunn, a former prosecutor in the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office.

New Will County Board Speaker Denise Winfrey, D-Joliet, sent the previous chief of staff, Ragan Freitag, a letter on Dec. 7 that said her employment was terminated effective immediately, explaining hers was an at-will position. Winfrey said as long as she has been on the board, the chief of staff position had always been hired internally and therefore a vacancy is not advertised. She added the chief of staff is hired at the will of the speaker of the board.

Dunn will make an annual salary of $126,875, according to a response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

New Will County Clerk Lauren Staley-Ferry also brought on a new chief of staff, Charles B. Pelkie, the former spokesman for the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office.

Pelkie said that since the position also is an at-will management position, Staley-Ferry was free to recruit for the job and was not required to advertise the vacancy. He added that Staley-Ferry did speak with other candidates before making her final decision.

In responding to a request under the FOIA, the clerk’s office said there was no advertisement for the position vacancy and no documentation from interested persons applying for the position.

The new chief of staff position essentially will replace the position formally known as the chief deputy clerk.

Pelkie said there was no formal job description for the chief deputy clerk position, but he will be responsible for overseeing every aspect of the office in addition to new duties. The new duties include development and supervision of expanded public outreach programs and assisting the county clerk as a liaison with other public officials, organizations and the news media.

Pelkie added that Staley-Ferry chose him because of his 12 years of experience in county government and his ability to grasp the inner workings of the state’s attorney’s office, and said she has confidence he can do the same in the clerk’s office.

“It is a highly complex office and they perform many functions,” Pelkie said.

The person who had the chief deputy clerk position under the previous administration retired at the end of November.

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