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After scandal-tinged mayor resigns, replacement picked

Alderman Rich Robinson to serve through April 2021

SANDWICH – The City Council voted unanimously during a special meeting this week to appoint 1st Ward Alderman Rich Robinson as the city’s mayor until April 2021.

All eight aldermen were present at the meeting, but Robinson abstained from the vote.

The former mayor resigned after he was charged in a sex solicitation sting.

Robinson, a DeKalb County Sheriff’s deputy, said he was ready for the challenge.

“Lots of headaches and thoughts this week, that’s for sure,” Robinson said. “But I’m willing to do it.”

Sandwich City Attorney Jessica Harrill said during the meeting that there has been some discussion about the mayor’s salary and concern about
40 work hours a week being required of the mayor. First Ward Alderman Les Redden said the previous mayor’s salary was $20,000, but whether Robinson would get the same salary hadn’t been discussed yet.

“Just to be clear, because I know there has been a little confusion, nowhere in the ordinance, nowhere in the code does it actually require for anybody to work 40 hours per week,” Harrill said during the meeting. “It just says that it appears that the mayor’s position is a full-time job and has the potential to be a 40-hour-per-week commitment.”

Robinson said that if an alderman is appointed as mayor, they can have the ability to vote as alderman, but will not have tie-breaking vote abilities on top of that as appointed mayor. If aldermen vote 4-4 on a motion, for example, it fails, he said.

Robinson said that will be the case for him unless he decides to resign as alderman.

Although Robinson is eligible for retirement, he said he plans to continue to work full time at the sheriff’s office. Excluding after-hours work, he said that he will work in a full mayor capacity whenever he has days off.

Robinson made an unsuccesful bid for mayor 10 years ago. He said the experience of eventually being appointed mayor had been a little overwhelming.

“I feel good that the council has faith and trust in me to take on this endeavor,” Robinson said.

The appointment comes after former Mayor Richard A. “Rick” Olson, 66, resigned May 13, days after police announced he was charged with soliciting sex acts from a police informant. City Clerk Denise Ii read Olson’s resignation letter at the May 13 meeting of the Sandwich City Council.

Olson and others charged in the sting operation conducted in La Salle County are scheduled to make their first court appearance May 31 in Ottawa. Solicitation of a sexual act is punishable by probation or up to a year in jail, and a maximum fine of $2,500.

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