Pekin Mayor reacts to firing of City Manager; says it will impact reelection decision

Published: Oct. 24, 2022 at 9:39 PM CDT
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PEKIN (25 News Now) - Two days after the Pekin City Council fired its City Manager, we are hearing from Mayor Mark Luft.

The Council voted 4-2 Monday to fire City Manager Mark Rothert and replace him with an interim employee, current Finance Manager Bruce Marston. Luft was a notable ‘No’ vote and advocated for Rothert’s hiring in 2018.

The meeting featured a lively public comment period in which several people defended Rothert, including Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Amy McCoy and Pekin Area United Way Executive Director Heather Robertson.

“I know we’ve already lost people who are irreplaceable,” Robertson said.

“We don’t have to keep doing it,” he added.

“I just really encourage every single person involved to think about the lives and the image of our community as we move forward,” McCoy said.

Wednesday, Mark Luft wished the Marston well and says he wasn’t a part of the discussions leading up to the council meeting. He says the decision to fire Rothert would weigh into his decision on whether to run for reelection.

“I’m here to help [Marston],” Left said. “Staff is here to help him. Corporate counsel is here to help him to guide through this... I’m not sure, with the four councilmembers, if I will still have the resources to move us forward, so that has to be taken into consideration in my decision.”

UPDATE TUESDAY 11:48 A.M. - Mark Rothert has released a statement:

Dear Citizens of Pekin:

If you are reading this statement it means that the Pekin City Council has decided to terminate my employment. It was not the ending I had desired, but nonetheless it is the will of the majority of the city council as it sits today.

I have thoroughly enjoyed each day of my job, even on the most challenging ones. I couldn’t have worked with a better group of staff members who fought every day for work that often went unnoticed. Together, we modernized every department of the City; created financial stability with the largest cash reserves it has ever had; and were able to envision and work on projects that would make the community an even better place to live. I no doubt believe that the community is far better off now than it was 4 years ago when I started. At the end of the day, it has been my highest honor to serve as your city manager. Thank you very much for that opportunity.

I wish you all the best and the best of luck for continued improvement of the community.

Mark Rothert

PEKIN (25 News Now) - The Pekin City Council Monday night fired City Manager Mark Rothert, but Mayor Mark Luft was opposed to the idea.

The council took the vote in open session after meeting for about 1 1/2-hours behind closed doors in executive session. Rothert has held the job since 2018.

When the council returned to open session, Luft thanked the public for its patience as the elected officials worked their way “through a very difficult situation.” No other comments by the mayor or the council about the action.

Mark Luft, Mayor of Pekin
Mark Luft, Mayor of Pekin(WEEK)

The council voted 4-2 to terminate Rothert, with Luft and Council member John Abel voting no. Dave Nutter, Becky Cloyd, Rick Hilst, and Lloyd Orrick all voted for the dismissal. By the same vote, the council hired the city’s finance director, Bruce Marston, to serve as interim city manager for the next 90 days. Council member Karen Hohimer was absent from Monday’s meeting.

Nutter and Cloyd are both running for mayor, while Luft has not announced his intentions for next year’s local elections. Cloyd told 25 News on Sunday that Rothert’s contract was set to expire in November, and the decision to let him go was the result a performance evaluation and not any misconduct.