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City Manager Will Not Be the Retiring Type

Dave Limardi will continue to work after he resigns Jan. 1, 2012.

With no specific professional plans after January 1, outgoing made one thing clear about his future during a news conference Tuesday morning at City Hall. 

He is not retiring.

With plans to stay in Highland Park and marry Kris Slattery October 22, Limardi said he will remain professionally active in some way. Though he feels he is at the top of his game, he has no plans to manage another municipality. 

“I’m as good as I’ve ever been. I have a thought to do something else,” Limardi said. “It won’t be directly in the public service.” 

After 34 years in municipal management guiding and taking direction from elected officials, Limardi said it was unlikely he would seek elective office himself. He has great respect for those who do. 

“It’s hard for them to put themselves out there to win or lose. To give something 100 percent to get a job and when you lose it can’t be easy,” Limardi said. “Raising so much money is something that does not appeal to me. It’s not in my values.” 

Former Mayor Mike Belsky, one of four mayors Limardi served under, considers some of Limardi’s best accomplishments the development of Ft. Sheridan, the building of Renaissance Place and the growth of the Taste of Highland Park. 

Limardi placed the five-year effort at Ft. Sheridan at the top of his list. He helped Highland Park, Highwood and Lake Forest negotiate the acquisition of the former military base and turn it into a neighborhood. He lived there for 10 years before moving to the city’s Sherwood Forest area. 

“Ft. Sheridan was five years of my life,” Limardi said. “We took a fort and turned it into a community. You don’t get to do that very often.” 

In addition to Belsky and current Mayor Nancy Rotering, Limardi served under former Mayors Dan Pierce and Ray Geraci. In that time he saw the city go from divisiveness over the development philosophies of Pierce and Geraci to an era of progressive growth in Belsky’s tenure. 

Through it all, Limardi remained focused on professionalism, taking direction from the city's elected officials and turning their wishes into sound policy. 

“This form of government (council/manager) is about … taking the vision of elected officials and citizens and in an ethical, efficient and transparent way implementing that vision,” Limardi said. “We have to translate this into action. It’s not always easy.” 

Limardi said the city's best moments came as a result of real challenges. More than 12 years ago, members of the Highland Park Police Department were accused of racial profiling. 

Pierce presided over a public hearing with the City Council at the height of the incident where Highland Park residents Juanita Jordan, Michael Jordan’s then-wife, and the late, former Chicago Bear Dave Duerson spoke. 

“The community was struck at its core. The elected officials handled it well,” Limardi said. “As a people we came out better.” 

In his years working as a city manager, Limardi learned when to point the mayor and City Council towards the bigger picture if they appeared overly focused on Highland Park alone. He did this when he gave them reasons at an April meeting not to stifle the . His advice was eventually heeded. 

“It’s about being honest and looking at reality,” Limardi said of the incident. “I have to be able to prod the Council when it needs to make the best decision.” 

Between now and January 1, Limardi intends to focus on preparing his final budget as Highland Park’s city manager. He will also continue to teach two classes at Northwestern University after he leaves. 

After graduating from Marquette University in 1975 with a degree in political science, Limardi earned a Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Kansas in 1978. He went to work as an assistant to the village manager in Wilmette that year. He first took a municipality’s helm with Lincolnshire in 1982 before coming to Highland Park in 1993. 

One career move Limardi has not ruled out is consulting. “If I can be helpful people to people I will. If I can make a few dollars that’s okay too.” 

larry August 10, 2011 at 01:01 PM
Thank you Nancy Rotering and Steve Mandel for getting rid of the best city manger in the area. From the beginning of your election campaign we all knew that if you got elected you and Steve, especially Steve, would do what you could to get rid of Dave and hire a weak manager. Will you succeeded so lets all watch HP now go down hill
Debra Rade August 10, 2011 at 04:59 PM
While wishing David Limardi much success as he pursues new opportunities, it is surprising to read that some residents believe the City will now go from a “strong manager” to a “weak manager.” In the article, even Mr. Limardi stated that his role was to take “the vision of elected officials and citizens and in an ethical, efficient and transparent way implement[ing] that vision.” Why would some believe Mayor Rotering and City Council wants anything else. Does anyone actually believe the job specifications for this job will be to seek a “weak” manager? That would, indeed, be concerning but is hardly likely. Mr. Limardi’s strengths were appreciated by many (his weaknesses, another thing). If anything, the elected officials were weak in comparison. They failed to manage him. To the contrary, they relied on him to the extreme, and didn’t look behind him, or challenge his proposals and assumptions. After so many years of being the “CEO” of HP – how Mr. Limardi used to refer to himself – it was doubtful from the outset that the scenario after the recent elections would work for anyone. I trust Mayor Rotering has the strength to manage a strong city manager and wish her good luck in finding the right person to help implement the vision of the elected officials. For more info: http://bit.ly/Limardi
larry August 10, 2011 at 05:26 PM
Debra: No doubt that Nancy will be a strong mayor. The only problem there is that both Nancy and Steve Mandel were out to get Dave to leave expecially Steve. I only hope that Nancy can control Steve and he is gone by the time the next election rolls around. I am told that like Belsky, Nancy in private does not like Steve as most on the new and old council don't
mike belsky August 17, 2011 at 11:20 PM
Dave was an exceptional City Manager and his shoes will be very hard to fill. It is sad that we have Mayor and her major sponsor Steve Mandel that thrive on division and politics as opposed to helping the community move forward. This is all Dave Limardi ever cared about- not about cutlivating support in a Mayoral campaign from individuals looking for favoratism or meeting the needs of a childish Council member who feels anything he wants is a priority because he has nothing to do all day. Very sad group- but Dave can leave with his head high and there is an election every four years- thank G-D.
Mosaic53 December 16, 2011 at 05:00 PM
Our former mayor does himself no favor by posting unprofessional comments such as these. Is this how one who professes to want to "move the community forward" should carry himself? We all know how you feel about Councilman Mandel & Mayor Rotering. Let it go & move on. You should be thankful for landing a decent position at Mesirow. You have lamented to some, about your many woes of late; marital, personal relationships, career & health issues. Aren't these more important? Leave your personal comments to private conversations & we will all be better off.

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