Riverside Village President Joseph Ballerine dropped a bombshell at the end of the July 20 meeting of the Board of Trustees, announcing he was resigning from the post in order to move to Estero, Florida, with his wife, Donna.
“We got an offer we couldn’t refuse,” Ballerine said of the Florida property, which he and his wife will close on next week. “So, we will be putting our house on the market in short order and moving down to Florida.”
Fellow elected officials reportedly were informed of Ballerine’s decision last week. When the couple signed a contract for the Florida property a few months ago, Ballerine said they initially intended to rent the property until his term as president ended.
However, that option turned out to be more complicated than they thought, so Ballerine said they made the decision to move as soon as possible.
“It was such a painful decision,” said Ballerine, who has been involved as a public servant in Riverside in some capacity for the past three decades. “Once I got to it, I felt relieved.”
Ballerine, 64, has not yet tendered a resignation letter to the village clerk, but he said he expects to leave the post in the next 60 to 90 days.
“It depends on the sale of our house, but things have been selling pretty fast,” said Ballerine, who was elected president in an uncontested race in 2021.
Ballerine said he would tailor his resignation letter to line up with the closing date for the sale of his home. He likely will resign at the end of a village board meeting, after which trustees will select someone from their ranks to fill the post and complete Ballerine’s term, which expires in May 2025.
The village board would then have up to 60 days to fill the vacancy created by the elevation of a trustee to president.
It is not entirely clear which trustee will end up replacing Ballerine as president for the remainder of the term, but early indications point to Trustee Doug Pollock.
Asked if Pollock was likely to be the consensus choice, Ballerine said, “I believe that’s an accurate statement.”
“As soon as I can get everything settled, I’ll talk to each of the trustees, and they’ll come to a consensus. But I don’t think it will be much of a talk. Doug is extremely qualified to fill in.”
Pollock, who was elected to a third consecutive term as trustee in 2021, retired in 2020 from a 37-year career as a municipal planner, department director and village administrator.
For 25 years until his retirement, Pollock worked for the village of Burr Ridge. He previously served as a planner in Indianapolis and assistant community development director in Lombard.
He still serves municipalities on planning projects or in interim capacities through the government temp agency GovHR.
Pollock, who is the longest-serving trustee currently on the village board, said he was interested in completing Ballerine’s term.
“I think any one of the six trustees is capable of filling that position,” Pollock said. “But, I certainly would be willing to do it if the other trustees want me to. … I’d be honored to be appointed and willing to fill out the remainder of the term.”
As for a future run for a full term, Pollock indicated that while he’s thought about the possibility in the past, he’d also be happy to step aside if someone else really wanted to give it a shot.
“In 2025 we’ll see what’s going on,” Pollock said. “I’m more than happy to let someone else do it, but if the moons align, I would.”
Had he faced a challenge in 2021, Ballerine would have been a difficult candidate to beat. A native of Brookfield and a 1977 graduate of Riverside-Brookfield High School, Ballerine moved to Riverside in 1988 and soon dove into public service.
Ballerine spent 15 years on the Riverside Parks and Recreation Board, serving as its chairman. He served for two years as a village trustee after being appointed to that post in the 1990s. He then served two full terms as trustee after being elected in 2011 and 2015.
He was a co-founder of the Riverside Friends of the Fourth, a nonprofit created in 2009 when the village board at that time cut funding for the July 3 and 4 festivities, and in 2017 Ballerine was named Riverside Person of the Year by the Lions Club.
“Everybody loves Joe, and he’s been a really good leader,” Pollock said. “He’s put in so much for the village, not just these past two years, but the last 30. I completely understand his decision. Family and life are more important than the volunteer work we do.”
Ben Sells, who decided against running for a third consecutive term as president in 2021, enthusiastically threw his support behind Ballerine. After Ballerine was elected that spring, Sells personally administered the oath of office to Ballerine.
“Riverside is lucky to have had Joe’s dedicated and heartfelt service over many years,” Sells said. “We are a better village because of him and I wish him and Donna the best in the next chapters of their lives.”