Jay Reyes

Riverside Township Supervisor Vera Wilt on Feb. 14 administered the oath of office to the township board’s new clerk, Jay Reyes, after revealing that Michael Dropka had resigned due to moving out of the township.

Reyes immediately took a seat at the board table at the township board’s meeting that night to begin his new role. While the township board could have solicited letters of interest for the position, Wilt said Reyes was both interested in and qualified for the post.

“When Mike told me he was leaving, I asked if he had any thoughts on a replacement and maybe if he could talk to Jay,” said Wilt. “I met with Jay and he was interested and certainly has all the credentials we need.

“Since clerk is not a voting position, when I had a willing person to fill the vacancy [I acted].”

Reyes, an attorney who is chief counsel for the American Bar Association and has a private practice in Riverside, has had a long career in politics. He served as legal counsel to the late Judy Baar Topinka when the Riverside resident served as Illinois comptroller and also served as Topinka’s deputy when she served as the Riverside Township Republican committeeman.

He later worked as deputy general counsel for the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation and general counsel for Illinois Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti.

In 2010, Reyes became the first Hispanic member of the Triton College Board of Trustees, where he served until 2011. In 2015, he was again appointed to the Triton board, serving until 2019.

Both Dropka and Reyes ran unsuccessfully in 2016 to be delegates for U.S presidential candidate John Kasich at that year’s Republican National Convention, where Donald Trump was nominated by the party.

Reyes also initially filed to run as a Republican candidate in the 4th Congressional District for the 2018 election, but he withdrew shortly after filing.

Dropka, who works as village administrator in Forest View, has served in a number of capacities in local and state government for many years. From 2009 to 2011, Dropka served as a member of the Komarek School District 94 Board of Education, where his mother was a longtime board president.

He was elected as a Riverside Township trustee in 2017 and then ran successfully for township clerk in 2021.

Dropka was a former campaign manager for the VIP Party in North Riverside and was Judy Baar Topinka’s spokesman during her time as Illinois comptroller. When Topinka died, Dropka assumed her role as Riverside Township committeeman and chairman of the Riverside Township Regular Republican Organization.

In June 2022, Reyes was elected Republican committeeman of Riverside Township and in late November took over as chairman of the Riverside Township GOP.

Meanwhile, Wilt said she expects to fill the vacancy on the township board created by the death in late January of Trustee Liane Blauw on March 14. Wilt declared the vacancy at the township board’s Feb. 14 meeting, announcing she would accept letters of interest and resumes until March 1.

The township board will interview candidates behind closed doors at a special meeting slated for March 9.