In his first act as president-elect of Riverside, Ben Sells on April 9 announced he would appoint lifelong Riverside resident Michael Foley to replace him as village trustee when the new board is seated on May 6.
Sells made the announcement at a victory party at Mollie’s Public House in Riverside. Foley will serve out the two remaining years of Sells’ term as trustee. Sells was re-elected to his second term as trustee in 2011.
“One of the reasons I chose him was for his skill set,” said Sells, speaking of Foley’s experience as a building contractor. “We don’t have anyone like that on the board.”
Sells collected 1,103 votes in an uncontested race to win Tuesday’s presidential race. Elected as village trustees were Patricia Julian Collins, Ellen Hamilton and Doug Pollock. They were also unopposed.
Foley has a long tradition of public service in his family. His father, Tom, was a Riverside trustee in the 1990s, while his mother, Nancy, served on the Riverside Historical Commission and Riverside Preservation Commission. Nancy Foley was one of the founders of the Landmark newspaper, under previous ownership.
“It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time,” said Michael Foley. “I’m glad Ben wanted to appoint me for the balance of his seat. It’s an opportunity to get my feet wet. I’m just really looking forward to jumping in.”
Foley interviewed twice previously with the Riverside Community Caucus, which chooses candidates for village elections. He was turned down both times over concerns that his occupation might pose a conflict of interest.
Sells said there was “no reason” to fear any conflicts.
“He’s an honorable man,” said Sells. “If he thinks there’s a conflict he’ll recuse himself.”
In addition to his job as a contractor, Foley is also a member of the Big Chill Crew, which works every winter to provide an ice rink at Big Ball Park. He is a former Riverside firefighter and a member of the Riverside Emergency Services Group, a volunteer auxiliary organization that serves the fire department. He has also served on the board of the Riverside Swim Club for a decade.