Giarrante to reopen Rialto board application process

Karen Sorensen | 1/20/2015, 10:34 p.m.
Anyone interested in serving on the Will County Metropolitan Exposition and Auditorium Authority should drop off their resume at the ...
Joliet Mayor Tom Giarrante

Joliet Mayor Tom Giarrante announced Tuesday he will be accepting applications from anyone interested in filling a Rialto Square Theatre oversight board vacancy.

After facing criticism he was playing politics in his appointments to the Will County Metropolitan Exposition and Auditorium Authority, Giarrante said he would accept resumes for the opening through Jan. 28. All candidates will be interviewed before he announces his choice Feb. 16.

The mayor had tapped former Joliet City Manager Tom Thanas to fill the seat, left vacant with the death of Dave Hacker. Thanas, however, turned down the appointment.

A second candidate also bowed out, Giarrante said, allowing him to restart the appointment process.

Giarrante's selection process drew opposition from fellow council members and The Rialto Belongs to the People, the grassroots group that came together to oppose the Rialto's new marquee, which was to bear a memorial for the parents of the man who donated the $350,000 to build it.

Donor Ed Czerkies has since withdrawn his donation, and now the group has launched a gofundme.com campaign to pay for the sign and other improvements the landmark theater needs.

As of Tuesday night, the effort had raised more than $11,000, including a $5,000 donation from a single contributor. Money can be pledged at www.gofundme/rialto or by dropping off checks at any BMO Harris Bank location.

The group is pushing Giarrante to appoint one of their members, Mary Beth Gannon, to the open board seat. Gannon has an art and architecture background and is a former reporter.

They are also asking the Rialto board to meet with them to map out ways they can work together both to raise money and to come up with a new marquee design.

"I hope and encourage the Rialto board to work with this group and take this task in hand to bring the Rialto back to the great facility it is," Giarrante said.

His comments were echoed by Councilman Bob O'Dekirk, the council's liaison to the Rialto board, and Councilman Larry Hug.

"I think the Rialto board should be encouraged that money they didn't have is coming in," Hug said.

Anyone interested in being considered for the Rialto board position should drop off his or her resume at Giarrante's City Hall Office, 150 Jefferson St., by Jan. 28.

Contact Karen Sorensen at Karen@TheTimesWeekly.com.