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Residents, officials say Rahn’s love for Westmont unprecedented

Published: Friday, Jan. 11, 2013 10:07 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, July 29, 2014 9:57 p.m. CDT
Caption
(Village of Westmont photo)
Westmont Mayor Bill Rahn stepped down from his position as mayor earlier this week due to health reasons and a desire to spend more time with family. He has been mayor since 1999.

WESTMONT — No one in the village cares for the community or has worked as hard to improve the village of Westmont as Bill Rahn. That was the underlying theme from Westmont officials and residents when asked about the longtime mayor’s resignation last week.

Rahn announced Friday that he has stepped down from the mayor’s seat he has held since 1999. His resignation was effective as of Monday, Jan. 7.

“Very few people love the village of Westmont as much as he does,” said village manager Ron Searl, himself a 30-year veteran working for Westmont. “It is hard to find someone who has put in so much hard work and dedication to make Westmont a better place, and live up to the village’s motto of ‘The Progressive Village’ the way he has.”

Rahn told the Westmont Progress that his decision to resign just three months before the election — he was not running for re-election — is due to health reasons and a desire to spend more time with his family.

“After 30 years in public office, I have decided that I want to spend more time with my family,” Rahn said. “I was up for re-election anyway this spring, and have accomplished everything that I wanted to.”

Rahn was born in Westmont in 1942 and is a lifelong resident. Before he began his political career as a Westmont trustee in 1983, he was a teacher and counselor at Lyons Township High School, roles he kept until retirement in 2011.

Rahn, 70, plans to visit with his son in Wisconsin more often, he said. He also has been battling illness, and has not been at public events or meetings for weeks. Rahn declined to discuss any health ailments he is battling.

In October, Rahn announced he would not seek re-election.

Westmont resident Ron Gunter, who also serves as director of the Westmont Park District, is the only candidate to have filed to run for mayor in the April election, and will run unopposed, unless a write-in candidate chooses to run against him, in the April election.

Trustee Sue Senicka, who was part of the Westmont Village Board that appointed Rahn to the mayor’s seat in 1999, said Rahn will be greatly missed.

“He always looked for compromise on the board, and always worked to reach a consensus. He was never a ‘my way or else’ leader. I am proud to have served all these years with him,” she said.

Larry Forssberg, executive director of the Westmont Chamber of Commerce, said Rahn’s love of Westmont has always shown.

“His passion for the village of Westmont was always apparent. He wore it on his sleeve,” Forssberg said. “From a business standpoint, he has always been a staunch supporter of the businesses in the village, be it small mom-and-pop stores, the big car dealerships, or new business like the Standard Market. The business community could never ask for a bigger supporter than Bill Rahn has been.”

What’s next for the mayor’s seat? Village manager Ron Searl said the Westmont Village Board will discuss the vacant mayor’s seat during a regularly scheduled Committee of the Whole meeting on Thursday.

The earliest any action could be taken regarding the vacancy would be Monday’s voting meeting of the Westmont Village Board, Searl said.

The board could appoint one of the current trustees as temporary mayor until the term expires in April, Searl said. Village trustee Sue Senicka, the senior trustee on the Westmont Village Board, is serving as mayor pro-tem until a decision is made, and the board could appoint her to the pro-tem spot instead of appointing someone as acting mayor, Searl said.

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