Evanston City Manager Julia Carroll has announced her resignation as city manager effective June 27. In her resignation letter to Mayor Lorraine Morton, Carroll cited declining personal health as her reason for her departure from the city.

Carroll has served as city manager for Evanston since January 18, 2005. She said, “I have very much enjoyed my position as city manager and will miss the great city employees, working with elected officials, and the interaction with the public.

“However, I must do what is best for me, she said. “I hope that the city employees and the public will respect my right to privacy as I transition from this organization. I am not going to another position, but I will take some time off to get well.”

During Carroll’s tenure as city manager she has pushed for strategic planning, leadership development of staff, and community planning as important goals.

“I’m absolutely surprised and shocked,” Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, said when interviewed this afternoon.

She said aldermen learned of the resignation during an executive session following Monday night’s City Council meeting.

“I had no idea. I certainly didn’t see it coming,” Holmes added.

She said Carroll had led the city through some very difficult financial times and her departure “will be a big loss to the city.”

“But we have no control over our health issues, and I can only say that I’ll be praying for her,” the alderman added.

Holmes, who was elected to the council shortly after the city manager arrived, said she assumes the aldermen will select an interim city manager to fill in while a national search is conducted for a successor.

The city official who has served as acting city manager three times before, Assistant City Manager Judy Aiello, is scheduled to end her 32-year career with the city this week and was the subject of farewall tributes from the aldermen during Monday night’s meeting.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, said she had noticed that Carroll had been sick off and on over the winter, “but then it was a terrible winter and a lot of people were sicker than usual,” she said.

Rainey said she was “shocked and appalled” to hear of the manager’s plans to resign.

She said the aldermen were told nothing more about her decision last night than what was released publicly today.

The city’s community development director, James Wolinski, who plans to retire later this year, said city department heads “were all pretty stunned” when Carroll told them of her decision in a staff meeting this morning.

“I’ve been through four other city managers who resigned,” Wolinski said, “and for the most part you knew they were leaving, because you’d heard rumors they were interviewing for other jobs.”

“It’s a tough job being city manager in a town like Evanston,” Wolinski said, “It requires 70 to 80 hours a week.”

He said he believed it was likely that Assistant City Manager Rolanda Russell would be named by the aldermen to be acting city manager and that, if past practice is followed, the council likely will hire a headhunting firm to run a national search for a new city manager.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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