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May 18, 2024

Lakewood Village President tries to remove 2 Village Trustees –

By John Kraft & Kirk Allen

On June 10, 2018


It appears, from two recent letters written by Lakewood, IL. Village President Paul Serwatka, that he is usurping the powers, rights, and responsibilities of a couple of village trustees by attempting to remove them from office. Hopefully, the village’s attorney will inform the village president that he cannot do this.

Their next village board meeting is Tuesday, June 12, 2018.

Trustees Jason McMahon and Patrick Rexroat were both appointed to vacant Trustee seats, and for the remainder of those vacated terms of office.

There is no provision in the Illinois Municipal Code for removing an elected (or appointed to an elected office) village trustee – and especially by village presidential proclamation. We assume the Village Police Department is not going to assist this village president in these civil rights violations.

A vacancy can only occur under the same conditions as an elected Trustee:

  • resignation
  • death or disability (Village Board declares the vacancy)
  • abandonment or other cause (Village Board declares the vacancy)
  • guilty of disqualifying criminal offense (Plea agreement or finding of guilty by a Court)
  • election declared void (by a competent tribunal)
  • owing of a debt to the municipality (after a lengthy written timeline and process)

It is our understanding, Village President Paul Serwatka is moving out of the village, and this is the only way for him to back-door the appointment of his chosen replacement – by getting rid of enough dissenting trustees…

We attempted to talk to Village President Serwatka, but he did not answer his phone and did not return our call at press time. Serwatka is a member of the “Lakewood Tax-fighter and Better Government Project.

We suggest Trustees McMahon and Rexroat attend the next meeting and take their usual and rightful seats at the village board meeting as they have in the past.

Last December, the Village of Lakewood Trustees censured Serwatka (read it here), but much like this lack of authority for removing village trustees, those same trustees lacked any authority for censure. Censure is left to the voters.
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  • PrairieDock9
    Posted at 11:01h, 11 June

    He appears to be basing this on a provision in the Municipal Code which allows a Village President to dismiss any appointed “officers.” However, it is questionable if this applies to village trustees that have been appointed to fill unexpired terms of elected positions. Under this provision, the Board can override by a 2/3rds vote but the “board” no longer includes the trustees who were allegedly dismissed. It appears that this provision was not intended to apply to trustees but because trustees are referred to elsewhere in the Municipal Code as “officers”, there is ambiguity. This is the stuff of litigation. See 65 ILCS 5/3.1, Divisions, 5, 15, 30, 35, 45 .

    • jmkraft
      Posted at 11:09h, 11 June

      This cannot stand. No litigation needed.

      • PrairieDock9
        Posted at 11:15h, 11 June

        Read the above cited sections of the Municipal Code and you will see what I mean.

        • jmkraft
          Posted at 11:19h, 11 June

          I have read them – they do not apply. A village trustee cannot be removed from office by the village president or the village board except under certain conditions listed in this article. It does not matter if the trustee was elected or appointed to the vacant elected position.

          • PrairieDock9
            Posted at 17:48h, 11 June

            President Serwatka may tender his resignation and leave town immediately after the meeting after having first ensured that the Board has been reconstituted to favor his desired successor. Lawsuits ensue.

  • PrairieDock9
    Posted at 11:12h, 11 June

    Agreed, but this is apparently what he is doing. Not only that, but the Village could end up paying for both sets of lawyers.

  • PrairieDock9
    Posted at 11:32h, 11 June

    I agree. . If someone is appointed, he/she should acquire all of the rights to the position as if it had been elected. Otherwise they would just be serving at the pleasure of the President or Mayor and could not function as an independent person. However, Serwatka has cited the “Municipal Code” in his letters and this is the same procedure that he has used in the past to dismiss appointed people from village positions so I think he believes that this is what applies here. He thinks he was elected dictator. Like a couple of other people I can think of.

  • ang
    Posted at 11:55h, 11 June

    Um, newsflash, police violate civil rights all the time. What makes anyone think those local police won’t violate civil rights by assisting in removing a couple of trustees? Police in America beat up innocent civilians for simply smartphone videorecording the police beating up unarmed civilians.

  • PrairieDock9
    Posted at 13:06h, 11 June

    This might be a good meeting for the Watchdogs to video….

  • Palio73
    Posted at 15:13h, 11 June

    Its part of Chicago so we know they are corrupt.