, 50, considers Highland Park a progressive community, and after serving on two of its commissions he has already made his mark.
When Kaufman became Highland Park’s Monday, it was with the hope of helping his lifelong hometown stay that way.
His inauguration at Monday at the Council’s regularly scheduled meeting was not his first experience with the city’s legislative body.
Kaufman first addressed the Council as an eighth grader when he attended in 1975. He advocated for bicycle paths that connected northern Highland Park to the central business district.
“I was promoting the idea of the city building a bike path to connect the Highlands with other parts of Highland Park," Kaufman said. "It passed."
After graduating from Northwood and , he went on to earn Phi Beta Kappa honors at Amherst College in Massachusetts and then received a law degree from the University of Chicago in 1986.
A progressive outlook
As an adult, he returned to Highland Park with his wife Amy to raise their children.
Between his first effort with the City Council and Monday’s inauguration, Kaufman has devoted years of service to Highland Park--always with an eye to maintaining the progressive image of the community.
Kaufman's service continued when he was appointed to Highland Park’s Human Relations Commission by then-Mayor Dan Pierce.
“We dealt with real neighborhood concerns,” Kaufman said. “We also started to have discussions of an affordable housing plan. Highland Park has always been a leader with progressive issues.”
After serving on the Human Relations Commission, he was appointed to the Housing Commission, where he eventually became its chairman. During his tenure, he became the principal architect for the city’s affordable housing program.
“Highland Park has a tradition of being inclusive, enabling people who work here to be able to live here as well,” Kaufman said. “People should also be able to remain here when there is a divorce or an illness.”
Kaufman’s plan became the model for Illinois and state Rep. Karen May (D-Highland Park) placed him on a blue ribbon panel on affordable housing. He considers it one of his finest accomplishments.
“I feel outstanding about it because we had a combination of outstanding leaders to set an example,” Kaufman said. “It was a great accomplishment because Highland Park became a leader.”
He remains involved with Community Partners for Affordable Housing.
Focus on economic development
Kaufman has seen the progressive nature of Highland Park since his childhood with many in the community taking part to make things happen.
“We have quality people who care about causes, sit on commissions and volunteer their time,” he said. “They volunteer with civic and charitable causes.”
Once he takes his City Council seat, Kaufman plans to focus his attention on economic development, infrastructure maintenance, an enhanced quality of life and fiscal responsibility.
“Downtown and the business community must be as vibrant as possible,” said the incoming councilman. “There should be a variety of shops.”
He also wants efforts made to improve the Ravinia business district and other commercial areas.
As a practicing lawyer, Kaufman has developed a niche in the field of employment law, among other areas. Along with his position as managing partner of the Chicago office of Michael, Best and Friedrich, his legal and management experience will aid his service on the Council.
“My experience and skills managing and retaining employees will be helpful in this day and age,” said Kaufman, who noted his background counseling businesses on employment matters should benefit the city.