Retired state trooper replaces convicted commissioner on Foss Park board

Retired state trooper replaces convicted commissioner on Foss Park board

Frank Abderholden
3–4 minutes

North Chicago’s Foss Park District commissioners picked a retired Illinois State Police trooper to replace Susan Dixon, a commissioner convicted of theft this year in connection with toys taken from a 2014 Toys for Tots campaign.

The board voted 3-1 Monday to name 52-year-old Anthony “Tony” Jones a park commissioner, a position he sought unsuccessfully in the last election.

“I was surprised when they called me,” said Jones, who is also chairman of the North Chicago Citizens’ Advisory Committee.

Jones lost campaigns for the park board position in 2013 and 2015, but said he was always at the meetings.

“They knew I was interested. I go to all the meetings,” he said before the board swore him in Wednesday night. “I thank the board for having confidence in me, and I hope I can make you proud, and help make this a better community.”

Jones has lived in North Chicago for 23 years and worked with the Illinois State Police for just over 25 years, serving the last 14 years assigned to the Illinois Gaming Board’s investigative division. He also works for HyperActive Gaming of Wood Dale as a compliance officer.

“I will try and keep my integrity beyond reproach and help as much as I can,” he said.

Because of his position with HyperActive, which is vying for a contract with the park district for the six video-gaming machines it has at Foss Park Golf Course, he immediately told the board he would recuse himself from any discussions or votes on the gaming license.

Dixon’s departure came after a Lake County jury found her guilty March 31 of stealing toys at a Toys for Tots holiday distribution event held by the North Chicago-based district. After more than three hours of deliberation, the jury returned a guilty verdict on one felony count of theft of government property.

Dixon was removed from the board at a special Monday morning meeting where Jones was picked as her successor.

The process had some residents puzzled as to why the board did not have the community more involved in finding a new commissioner.

“The citizens should have an opportunity to apply for any vacant position. You should have opened up the process to all citizens,” Pat Robinson said at Wednesday’s swearing in. “I have no doubt (Jones) will do a fine job. I want to address the process.”

New board president Vance Wyatt agreed the process wasn’t right, saying he is going to create a policy for the board to follow for appointments. Wyatt voted against Jones’ appointment Monday morning at the special meeting as a protest to the process that he called “the old way of doing things.”

“The problem was the process,” he said, which should have included gathering a list of names, holding a public-comment meeting and then deciding on the candidate.

“We need these changes to improve our image. We need to get rid of the old way of thinking, and my goal is to change that,” Wyatt said.

Twitter @abderholden