By Josh Bootsma
LANSING, Ill. (May 10, 2021) – During last Tuesday’s Village Board meeting, Lansing’s newly elected officials took their oaths of office. Most of those officials were reelected to their positions, as was the case with Mayor Patty Eidam. Eidam was elected as Lansing’s mayor in 2017 and ran unopposed in the April 6 election.
On last Tuesday night, after other elected officials had a chance to speak publicly, Eidam gave a 13-minute speech about her first term in office and her goals for the future.
Mayor Eidam’s comments are included in their entirety below:
First of all, Mr. Eidam, thanks for putting up with me and thank you for the flowers, sir.
Four years ago when this administration took office we did not make promises, we set several defined goals. I am extremely proud to tell you that most of those goals have been met.
Together we have worked to follow through on many priorities such as:
∙ The formation of the Lansing Human Relations Commission.
∙ Reinstatement of the street resurfacing program with over five miles of streets resurfaced or improved in less than four years.
∙ Removal of dozens of dead or diseased trees from our parkways and the Repair and replacement of many sidewalks.
∙ We have established solid working relationships with area government organizations such as South Suburban Mayors and Managers, and elected officials such as State Representatives Marcus Evans and Nick Smith, Cook County Commissioners Miller and Moore, Senator Elgie Sims, Thornton Township Supervisor Frank Zucceralli, and Bloom Township Supervisor T.J. Somer.
Several of the benefits we have been able to bring to Lansing over the last four years would not have been possible if we had not worked hard early on to connect with these township, county and state leaders.
The recent reconstruction of Wentworth Avenue is a good example of a project that we partnered with an area agency on. It was funded through South Suburban Mayors and Managers with federal dollars.
In 2019, Cook County Commissioner Stanley Moore held a Regional Economic Development event with Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle here in Lansing at the Historic Ford Hangar, showcasing the possibilities of our historic landmark and bringing Lansing to the forefront as a leader in the south suburbs.
As a result of our administration reaching out to State Representative Marcus Evans early on, he organized and hosted an event at our Fox Pointe to bring the venue into the spotlight for area elected officials.
Because we work closely with the Chicago Southland Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, Lansing was chosen from 63 surrounding communities to be the Municipal Leader of the Year in 2019 for our recognition, vision, service, and outstanding contributions to tourism and hospitality in the Chicago Southland.
Some of our other goals that have now been accomplished are:
∙ The new Santa House near Fox Pointe which also serves as a First Aid Station during Fox Pointe events.
∙ Recreation of the Mayor’s Senior Committee.
∙ Our emphasis on economic development has been successful in bringing dozens of new businesses to our village.
In just the last 4 years we have been able to assist new businesses such as Ace Pizza, Popeye’s Chicken, Planet Fitness, and Cerro Grande Grocery Store with opening here in Lansing.
Very soon Lansing will welcome a new interior decorating studio and One Trick Pony, a micro-brewery, as they join a new travel agency, Dream Vacations, and a photography studio, Elegant Design, all in our downtown Ridge Road area.
We have also worked together with larger businesses like Napleton Jeep, Dodge, Chrysler to help them expand their business. We helped facilitate another business with staying in our Village when Tacos and Burritos Rancho Grande needed more room to operate.
The recent announcement of Starbucks and Quick Trip coming to Torrence Avenue is a fine example of our administration listening to our residents and bringing them what they asked for.
Four years ago I mentioned that one of my big challenges would be to gather the best qualified, dedicated and ambitious staff and employees to begin working toward a defined plan to stabilize our future.
I am so very proud to tell you that I believe we have achieved that goal. New department heads such as Building Commissioner Zoran Savic, Public Works Superintendent Gary Richardson, Youth Center Director Aneisha Titsworth, and Fire Chief Chad Kooyenga all brought new energy and pride to their respective departments over the last couple of years. Our newest department head, Finance Director, Brian Hanigan, hit the ground running just a few weeks ago. We’re happy to have his experience, knowledge, work ethic, and wit in the Municipal Center with us!
Together these department leaders along with Fabian Newman, our IT Director, Tony Troncozo our Fox Pointe Director, Neil Murphy at LNN, Tom Gorski at the airport, and Interim Police Chief Rick Slough, along with almost 200 employees, continue to work each day to ensure Lansing’s success. My sincere thanks to all of them.
I am extremely thankful for those that I work closely with each day, Village Administrator, Dan Podgorski, Executive Assistant and Director of Communications, Ken Reynolds, our Village Clerk Vivian Payne, our Administrative Assistant, Sheila Calomino, along with our Village Engineer, Jeff Pintar, Attorney, Matt Welch and our Economic Development Consultant, Jack Hynes. I appreciate all of these dedicated teammates very much.
Four years ago, we knew that one of our priority goals must be to ensure that Fox Pointe would become a focal point of the Chicagoland area.
Our Fox Pointe team and this administration continues to explore how this amazing venue can be enhanced to its full potential. I am thankful that our first season at The Pointe in 2019 was incredibly successful. Excitement is building on the June 2nd opening of the 2021 season. This venue will add to the list of reasons that Lansing is a leader in our surrounding communities, including those across the state line.
My plan is to continue on the aggressive path we have followed for the last 4 years. The recent election results and the new level of pride that I have witnessed from our residents and business owners tells me that we are on the right avenue.
I’ve mentioned some of our accomplishments and dropped a few names not to brag, but to let you know that we mean to keep focusing on our updated goals and working above and beyond for our Lansing.
There is always room for improvement and more to learn. I want to accomplish so much more for our village.
We’ve made significant progress in answering the call for diversity and inclusion in our village government, staff and employees. The initiation our Human Relations Commission, hiring two African American department heads in the last two years, and ensuring that our front counter staff at the Municipal Center is bilingual are examples of how we continue to work for inclusion in our village.
We continue to make sure that all ethnic groups are represented as Henry Winfield was recently appointed to our 911 Commission and Gabe Barajas, who is bilingual, was appointed as a Police and Fire Commissioner. We have also modified our police officer testing procedure to encourage minority candidates to join our force.
We have certainly had some unforeseen challenges over the past four years. Sadly over the last four years we have lost three influential members of our village family. Retired Fire Chief Ken Myers passed away just a few days after we took office. We lost Trustee Michael Manno last June, and Police and Fire Commissioner Peter Krilich in January. We miss them and we continue to keep those families close to us.
We handled an incident that drew national attention with exceptional leadership and dignity with the help of the Department of Justice in June of 2017. Another challenge that we learned from.
Last spring at a time of national unrest this administration worked diligently with all our departments and state agencies to keep Lansing residents safe.
Despite several challenging incidents and days and a global pandemic, this administration has worked together to move forward on a positive path.
We found time, energy and resources to plan and execute special events for our community such as Hang at the Hangar in 2017, and a successful Halloween event at The Pointe, safely, under strict pandemic guidelines last fall.
Lansing was the only community in our area to host a celebration for the Centennial of the 119th Amendment last summer. Congresswoman Robin Kelly attended and mentioned in her remarks her appreciation for Lansing’s energy, determination and imagination.
Most recently we worked to bring Lansing’s Hometown Heroes’ Banner program to our village. As with any worthwhile project – it’s never as easy as it may seem in the planning stages – however, the pride that we all have as the banners are hung this past week is so valuable.
In addition to telling all of you how much I appreciate our administrative team, department leaders, employees and staff I want the residents of Lansing to know how much I appreciate them as well.
Lansing has served as an example for our surrounding communities during the pandemic. Our Lansing residents are a strong, proud, and caring village that quickly found ways to help each other this past year. Whether it was checking on an elderly neighbor or placing signs of encouragement in their windows, we have seen countless examples of them striving to stay upbeat and healthy.
As our newly elected officials took office tonight I decided I must share with you that State Representative Marcus Evans mentioned to me this past weekend that we, Lansing, may have the most diverse board of elected officials in the State of Illinois. We worked hard for that and yes we are proud.
I was honored to be elected as Lansing’s first female mayor and tonight I’m extremely proud to have Micaela sworn in as our first African American trustee. I will tell you that Micaela and I began a conversation over four years ago about working toward getting her on this board and tonight we are making history. Micaela is making history.
Leo Valencia and I have been working toward the goal of adding him as a bilingual elected trustee for some time as well.
Congratulations to Vivian, Micaela, Leo, and Brian.
I am confident that all six trustees and Clerk Payne are just as ready to get to work as I am. We are ready to welcome new opportunities.
My husband, Bud, and I both remain committed to Lansing. We work together to help Lansing in many ways. Thank you Mr. Eidam.
I am grateful and honored to be Lansing’s mayor for four more years ladies and gentlemen.
- Lansing swears in historically diverse Village Board (May 5, 2021)
- Election results in Lansing, reported April 6, 2021 (April 6, 2021)