The Village President of South Jacksonville has resigned amid several issues with ethics and problems with the Board of Trustees.
Village Attorney Rob Cross informed the board before heading into closed session last night that Tyson Manker had tendered his resignation yesterday afternoon: “About 1:30 this afternoon, I spoke with Mr. Manker. We had a nice conversation, and he informed me that he planned on resigning as Village President. He asked me to send him a written resignation. I emailed it to him. Around 2:30, he emailed it back to Tiffanee Peters and me and the Village Clerk, so he resigned as Village President today at around 2:30. We have an agenda tonight for a committee meeting, and that will be followed by a regular [business] meeting next week. The board may call a meeting earlier than that. It is up to them to appoint an interim or a village president to take Mr. Manker’s place, but they can figure out when they want to do that when they get to old or new business tonight.”
Manker was not present for the meeting, however, his presence was still felt. Village Clerk Amy Scoggins spoke up during public comment saying that Manker’s path as the leader of the village was hindered from the start due to collusion and corruption.
Scoggins called out Trustee Paula Belobradjic-Stewart directly during her comments, asking for Belobradjic-Stewart’s resignation: “I am asking for Paula’s resignation, and I’m inviting those taxpayers to stand with me to demand her immediate resignation. I also request that our government business cease and desist until everyone gets proper training.”
Scoggins cited what she characterized as official misconduct on Belobradjic-Stewart’s part for collecting signatures for Manker’s electoral opponent Dick Samples during the 2020 Election and then sitting on the village’s electoral board to have Manker removed from the ballot as a legitimate candidate. Scoggins produced an anonymous letter sent to Manker that showed petition signatures with both Samples and Belobradjic-Stewart’s names signed for each other’s petitions of candidacy. Scoggins also alleged other examples of Belobradjic-Stewart hindering Manker and village business: “Almost every single one of the village workers have been bullied by her and she continues to micromanage their work. If any of you had any idea of the lies that was told about…in closed discussion then you would…in closed discussion, you wouldn’t believe that the employees would possibly not even come back. If it continues, we will lose most of our workforce. Communication and integrity was lost on the day that Paula started her plot and created a team that could run all the votes her way – that day was the first day that Mayor Manker was in office. Why don’t you ask Paula how much is wasted in taxpayer dollars calling our attorney on an issue that could have been resolved if she would have collaborated as a team? This has been going on since 2016.”
WLDS News asked Belobradjic-Stewart for comment following the meeting. Her reply was that she respects everyone’s right to voice their opinion during the Village’s public comment section for meetings. She did not wish to answer any of the accusations or comment further.
Trustee Mike Broaddus ended the meeting by asking the board and current sitting administration to attempt to heal wounds caused by the recent rift: “I know Paula, okay. I’ve worked concerts with her a lot. When she first came on, she did not want to be a trustee. It was a hard time for her and a hard time for the village back then during that time, but she took the position on herself. I know she has the best interest of the village in her heart. I think the world of her, and I think that, you know, we can get along. That’s all I want to say is that we can get along. The reason I think that is there are a lot of things in the past…let it go. Let’s go on to the future. We all have differences. We all have differences of opinion, but we can get through all of this. We can make this village better.”
Village Police Chief Eric Hansell has confirmed that a threat assessment investigation into Manker’s most recent behavior and comments has been turned over to the Illinois State Police public integrity unit for further investigation. Hansell also confirmed that the village has received an ethics complaint against Manker filed by former trustee Todd Warrick.
The board of trustees did not set a special meeting date to select Manker’s replacement as president pro temp during the meeting.