Five days after village Trustee Mike Bettenhausen resigned, citing a possible conflict of interest as he looks to expand his family's car dealership, former Tinley Park police Sgt. T.J. Grady was appointed to fill the seat.
Grady was sworn in during Tuesday night's village board meeting.
"It was time for me to take a look and finally give back," Grady said of the town where he served on the police for three decades.
30 Years on Force, in Tinley
Grady, 54, retired from the police earlier this year after a career that included serving with the D.A.R.E. program, as a school liaison, with the investigations unit and, for four years, as president of the Tinley Park Patrolman's Association.
He currently works part-time for a private security firm, working at the United Center and U.S. Cellular Field, a position he said gives him great flexibility in finding time for the board.
He and his wife Trish have lived in Tinley Park for 30 years, raising three children. Grady said that living in Tinley since it was a small community of about 17,000 people has given him a unique perspective on the town.
"To see it triple during the course of my career has been a neat thing," he said.
In addition to past work with Bobcats baseball, Junior T-Bolts basketball and St. Elizabeth Seton basketball, Grady has also organized police fundraising efforts for charity and has sat on the Tinley Wish board since it began in 1995.
Although a political newcomer, Grady said he will be seeking election to the seat once the term expires in spring.
"We're in the process of putting that together now," Grady said of his campaign.
New Fiat Dealership Spurred Bettenhausen Decision
Bettenhausen is in Detroit in Chrysler National Dealer Council Meetings and could not be reached for comment.
His family dealership, where he is principal, currently has two locations: Bettenhausen Dodge in Tinley Park and Bettenhausen Chrysler/Jeep in Orland Park. Recently, the dealership was given a Fiat franchise and, in 2012, will start selling Alfa Romeos. Italian car-maker Fiat owns both Alfa Romeo and an increasing stake in Chrysler.
Along with the franchise came a January 2012 deadline to put all the Bettenhausen dealerships under one, six-acre roof, Mayor Ed Zabrocki said.
But Chrysler wants Bettenhausen on 159th Street, Zabrocki said. Now the only question is if the new, consolidated dealership will be on 159th Street in Tinley Park or in Orland Park.
"Quite frankly, I hope he locates on the Tinley Park side because of the tax dollars involved," Zabrocki said.
But the board would rather steer clear of the appearance of impropriety in having a sitting board member also relocating a large business in town. So Bettenhausen is resigning even though the dealership might not end up in Tinley.
"It is the policy of this board not to get into a conflict of interest type thing," Zabrocki said, adding that Bettenhausen's increased workload and an increasing role in Chrysler will also keep him too busy for board work.