Oswego brings in new highway commissioner
For the first time in almost 30 years, Oswego Township will have a highway commissioner whose name isn't "Grosskopf."
Bob Rogerson, one of the six candidates who ran against the longtime commissioner's son, told the Will County Gazette that his victory in the race will mean some dramatic changes in his professional life.
"For the record, I am going to dissolve my successful business I have been running for approximately nine years and devote 100 percent to the Oswego Township Highway Commissioner job," Rogerson wrote in an email.
Rogerson won the seat with 1,213 votes, ahead of Jeff Christiansen with 847 votes. They both more than doubled the 414 votes garnered by Aaron Grosskopf, the Oswego Township highway operations manager.
Aaron Grosskopf's father, Gary, has been township road commissioner for 28 years.
"I'm looking forward to that, meeting with Gary," he said. "I'm obviously going to have to talk with him, and Aaron, about the transition."
Promising complete devotion to the job is a sensitive issue in the township because Gary Grosskopf was caught not doing it two years ago.
On July 20, 2015, CBS 2 Chicago reported that Grosskopf was living in Florida while collecting his full-time salary and overseeing maintenance and repairs of roads back in Oswego Township, even directing snow removal. The station cited cell phone records, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, revealing 321 days of calls from Florida between April 28, 2014, and June 27, 2015, on the cell phone issued to Grosskopf by the township. That period included a massive snow storm on Super Bowl Sunday.
Grosskopf's salary of $95,912 made him the highest-paid Oswego Township employee, according to the report.
Grosskopf apologized but also said he was not ignoring his responsibilities.
"I have always been actively engaged in the operation of the department no matter where I have been,” Grosskopf said in a statement issued shortly after the accusations. "And this past year is no exception. That being said, I understand the negative perception and I apologize to the people of Oswego Township for my actions. I have been Oswego Township Highway Commissioner for half of my life and I have always tried to run the department to the best of my ability. "
Aaron Grosskopf, who has been the Oswego Township highway district operations manager for approximately five years, avoided questions about the controversy during the race.
"I really don't have much to say about that," he said last fall. "All I know is that I'm really just looking forward to doing what I can to bring the office forward and keeping everything moving on the right track and seeing what we can do for the future of the township."
As for Rogerson, he said in his email that he had little time to do anything but work.
"I do not have a secretary or campaign manager," he said. "So I have been extremely busy."
He also said he is comfortable with his decision to dissolve his business and devote himself full time to the road commissioner's job.
"The taxpayers deserve it," he said.