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Letter to the Editor: Like Daley, Belsky Dreamed Big

City councilman thanks departing mayor and councilmen.

This evening, we will usher in a new and . At the same time, we will say farewell to four extraordinary public servants and pay tribute to their extensive contributions to our community.

On May 16, Mayor Daley will also be retiring. In many, ways was the same type of Mayor. Both Belsky and Daley dared to dream big and implemented numerous projects and programs that benefited both Highland Park and Chicago. Belsky invested his time and our community resources in many important programs, including , Inclusionary Zoning and One Book. Literacy, health and the creation and preservation of affordable housing for teachers, police department employees and middle-income families are part of Mike’s tremendous legacy. Mike demonstrated his passion for helping people on the job each and every day and worked tirelessly to improve the quality of life for all our citizens.

Also retiring this evening are council members . Together with Mayor Belsky, these three council members brought their vital collective wisdom to our deliberations. Although they were not always on the same side of each issue, they were always on the side of the citizens of Highland Park.

Scott Levenfeld brought passion, energy and intelligence to his service on the council, consistently going to great lengths to serve and protect the people of Highland Park. His knowledge of the law and land use issues is vast and was often utilized by the council to address complex issues and adopt fair and equitable policies. Always open-minded, he used his forward-looking perspective and great compassion for the benefit of all concerned.

I don’t think there is anyone who could debate the fact that councilman Terri Olian contributed a vast amount of her time and energy towards improving our community. Her work on social causes and issues of life and safety will be felt for generations to come. From Late Night Highland Park to her efforts to help those in need, including her relief efforts following Hurricane Katrina, her work touched thousands in a positive way. Terri always brought a warm smile, keen intellect and optimistic attitude to her public service. 

Finally, councilman Silberman is one person I have often referred to as the prototype of what an effective community servant should be. Larry was never political in motivation; he put forth his efforts only to serve Highland Park. Larry grew up in this town and truly loves the community and its people. His understanding of both land use issues and finance were critical to the work of the council during the last eight years. His contributions to our debates were enormous and he brought new insight to old issues, often finding solutions that none of us had even considered.

We all owe these four public servants our gratitude. They leave behind a city ready to accomplish our goals for the future. Our finances are indisputably in great shape, boasting a triple A bond rating and healthy reserves of over 40 percent. There were no scandals, no ugly episodes, instead only positive progress and life enhancing government accomplishments during their service.

As a community, we take pride in citizens such as these retiring members who answer the call to public service and do so with great honor and distinction. Mike, Scott, Terri and Larry, we appreciate your efforts, we thank you for your successes and we all owe you our sincere gratitude. 

On a personal note, I am proud to consider and call each of you a friend. I know that you will stay engaged and you will always be just a phone call away. As Winston Churchill would say, your leaving the council is not the beginning of the end of your public service; instead it is just the end of the beginning.  Good luck to each of you.     

Jim Kirsch
City Councilman

abbie fassnacht May 11, 2011 at 04:25 PM
Concealed carry law defeated. BRAVO to our Rep Karen May for her vote against a concealed carry law. We do NOT need guns on the street- in the supermarket- near schools- in schools- libraries- hospitals. Thank you Karen.

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