In a packed room, amidst a standing ovation, the village board welcomed a new member Monday.
Trustees unanimously nominated Colette Lueck-a nine-year member of Oak Park’s Plan Commission-to fill a vacated trustee position.
Last week, Village President David Pope announced that Ernest Moore was leaving the board to take a position at the University of North Texas. Pope didn’t waste any time, nominating Lueck the next day to assume the spot.
“We’re obviously all sorry to see Ernest go,” Pope said last week. “But we understand and respect his decision and recognize the tremendous opportunity that he has with his new role.
“At the same time…I’m tremendously excited about Colette and the knowledge, experience, and deep reservoir of commitment to the community that she will bring with her to the board table.”
Lueck was chair of the plan commission from 2000 to 2007, is a recent board member for the Village Manager Association and is president of Forum Oak Park, a group that studies relevant issues in the village and takes positions on them.
She has formal training and experience in child psychology and social work and has held various senior management positions. She has several degrees and is a licensed clinical social worker.
After voting her aboard, other trustees gushed over their new colleague and the skills she brings to the table.
“In Colette Lueck, I can’t think of a better person more committed to this community,” said Trustee Jon Hale, who served on the Plan Commission with her, along with Pope and Trustee Ray Johnson. “She’s got a firm grasp of all the development issues facing our community.”
“She has a lot of courage and deep ethics,” Johnson said. “I believe that you have consistently displayed an indomitable spirit for the greater good.”
“It’s going to be great to have another woman’s perspective, which I think has been lacking over the last few months,” said Trustee Jan Pate.
Moore was scheduled to formally resign and speak his parting words Monday but could not make it, Pope said.
Lueck is familiar with the issues facing Oak Park and was seen as a person who could step in immediately and do the job. There are nine months left in Moore’s term and the village is about to start work on a budget for 2009, said Pope.
“Given her recent service as plan commission chair, she will be able to step right in and meaningfully contribute to the board’s consideration of these important issues,” he said last week.
Pope previously considered Lueck when Trustee Martha Brock vacated the board in January 2007. He nominated Moore at the time for his knowledge on housing issues, which were an important topic then. The housing department was in turmoil and multiple programs needed revamping.
Now, development is a key issue during the board’s deliberations, Pope said. The village is in various stages of working with developers on new projects on Madison, at Lake and Forest, and on the Colt site in Downtown Oak Park.
“I think given the issues before the board, having someone with a planning background just makes a whole lot of sense,” Lueck said last week.
Lueck has been following the issues in Oak Park lately. She didn’t get to campaign, but plans to gather input from the public, hear different voices, and master the ins and outs of the board table.
The term ends in April and she feels it’s too soon to say if she’ll run for election.
“I’m just really excited,” she said. “It’s a huge responsibility. It’s a huge honor. Oak Park really deserves the best because it’s a unique community, and I intend to try and give it my best.”
Three trustee spots, the village president, and village clerk are up for election. The VMA plans to start its selection process in September. VMA President Bob Kane said the party would welcome Lueck if she wants to throw her hat in the ring.
“I could not imagine that the VMA would not wholeheartedly endorse her wish to be a trustee,” Kane said. “Colette is very well known, and I think she’s thought of very highly by everybody that’s ever said anything to me.”