Riverside Township Supervisor Vera Wilt (left) administers the oath of office to John P. Carroll Jr. afollwing his appointment last week to fill a vacancy on the township board. | Bob Skolnik/Contributor

An attorney from Riverside who has a high-profile job in state government has been appointed to fill a vacancy on the Riverside Township board. 

On Nov. 16 the Township board voted 4-0 to appoint John P. Carroll Jr. to serve out the term of Thomas Morrissey, who was elected in April and resigned his position on the board earlier in October after being appointed as a Cook County Circuit Court associate judge.

Carroll, 50, serves as a deputy chief-of-staff for Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul. In his job he focuses on criminal justice policy.

Prior to joining the Attorney General’s Office, Carroll spent nearly 19 years working as an assistant Cook County state’s attorney. He spent 12 years as a prosecutor on hundreds of bench trials and approximately 40 jury trials. He then served for nine years as the executive assistant state’s attorney, serving as a senior attorney in the state’s attorney’s legislative unit where he oversaw the state’s attorney’s legislative agenda.

Carroll was chosen to serve on the township board from a field of eight people who applied to fill the vacancy. 

“We had some very good candidates but he was a standout,” said Riverside Township Supervisor Vera Wilt. 

All eight applicants were interviewed by other members of the township board. Wilt said that Carroll stood out.

“He certainly has the credentials that are valuable to the township,” Wilt said. “He knows all the right people. With his experience we just thought he would be a tremendous asset to the board.”

The other applicants were former Riverside village trustee Kevin Smith, former Riverside village board candidate Kelly Navarro, former Riverside-Brookfield High School District 208 school board member Gina Sierra, Riverside attorney Maria Enriquez, Riverside resident Otto Miller, North Riverside resident Kara Kalnitz and Riverside resident Jacob Palka.

Carroll moved to Riverside nearly four years ago. Two years ago, he began the process of seeking the endorsement of the Riverside Community Caucus as a Riverside trustee candidate before withdrawing prior to the vote endorsing a slate.

State Rep. Mike Zalewski, who serves as the Riverside Township Democratic committeeman, encouraged Carroll to apply for the vacancy. 

With Morrissey the only Democrat on the Unity Party slate formed to run for township office in 2021, the township board was committed to choosing a Democrat to replace him.

Zalewski said that while he encouraged Carroll to apply to fill the vacancy, he didn’t play any direct role in his selection. 

“It was not my decision,” Zalewski said. “I encouraged other people to apply. I thought it was really good that we had an open process.”

Carroll said that while he has experience working with the Illinois General Assembly and Cook County Board on policy issues, he is looking forward to participating in local government on the township board.

“I felt that I could really help the community by bringing my experience to something that affects the people of the community,” Carroll said. “This kind of government really has, can have, more dramatic effects. I saw it as a really awesome opportunity to help out my community.” 

Carroll grew up in the Edgebrook neighborhood on the Northwest Side of Chicago, but his mother, Mary, grew up in Riverside. Carroll’s grandparents, John and Margaret Corsiglia, lived on Lawton Road. 

“I spent, I don’t know, damn near half of my youth at grandma and grandpa’s house over on Lawton,” Carroll said.

Carroll graduated from John Carroll University (Carroll is not related to the John Carroll the university is named after) which is located in suburban Cleveland. After graduating from college with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, Carroll served for a year in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps and then went to law school at Loyola University. 

One day Carroll would like to become a judge. He has applied to be appointed to the Cook County bench a few times, including this year when Morrissey was appointed. 

“I am very open with the fact that it has been a lifelong dream of mine to become a judge,” Carroll said. “But as you can see, I am not the only one.”

Carroll said he seriously considered running for judge in the 4th Judicial Subcircuit in next year’s election, but he decided that now was not the right time.

“The reality of it is that running for judge is a financial commitment,” said Carroll, who has two young children, ages 8 and 6. The time and the resources necessary just sort of preclude my ability to run a successful judicial campaign.” 

Carroll said that he is committed to serving out the term to which he was appointed which runs until May of 2025.