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Metra set to vote on first Cook County-based chairman

Updated: October 26, 2012 5:01PM

Metra may soon have a chairman from Cook County, a first for the commuter rail agency.

Sources said board members were caught by surprise at the Oct. 12 meeting when Orland Park village trustee Brad O’Halloran’s name came up for vote as permanent chairman. He fell short by just one vote.

But the board approved a new policy that requires the chairmanship to be rotated every four years between a member from Cook County and members of the collar counties, which will prevent a chairman from staying in the position for too long.

A source said O’Halloran may now have enough votes – the required eight -- and the board could meet as soon as next week to make the decision.

O’Halloran would replace Larry Huggins, who was appointed interim chair last year when Carole Doris resigned. During her tenure, Doris authorized a special counsel to investigate allegations of impropriety against former Executive Director Phil Pagano, who later committed suicide.

O’Halloran served as Metra director for nine months in 2003, but left because of time commitments. He was appointed to Metra’s board last year by the suburban members of the Cook County Board.

Metra Board Secretary and Arlington Heights Mayor Arlene Mulder said electing a new chairman from Cook County would be a first for the agency.

“We were all in communication with our appointed leaders, suburban Cook County commissioners, and they had indicated that all the county chairs had agreed to this formula, a four-year term and that there has never been a Cook County representative even though Cook County is the source of the greatest amount of funding for Metra,” Mulder said. “So this will be a first.”

She called the four-year flip “very fair and very honest.”

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