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Former Addison Mayor Hartwig reflects on 25-year legacy

ADDISON – Larry Hartwig might have exited Addison Village Hall as mayor for the final time this week, but those doors to the rotunda haven’t totally closed behind him.

After serving the village for 25 years – first on the police commission, then as trustee, acting mayor and finally elected mayor in 1997 – the retiring 72-year-old Hartwig has plans to stick around.

“I guess I’ll just become a volunteer,” Hartwig said with a laugh. “It’s a transition.”

While Hartwig has stepped down, he’s agreed to continue his good working relationship with Rich Veenstra, such as subbing in for the new mayor at community functions if a familiar face is needed. Veenstra, who ran unopposed in April for mayor, was sworn in Thursday.

Hartwig also will remain active in the DuPage Mayors and Managers Conference, a council of leaders from 36 municipal governments in DuPage County that researches issues affecting local government.

“One of the real highlights of being a mayor is meeting other people,” he said. “The mayors, as a group, are looking to do what’s best for their communities. If we argue about anything, it’s about who has the best community.”

Back from a recent trip to Springfield to promote the conference’s legislative agenda, Hartwig rested easy in his mayor’s chair while sharing his favorite moments in office.

“We’ve really had a vision,” Hartwig said. “We’ve accomplished a lot.”

He’s most proud of the Village Board’s ability to work with and support multiple taxing bodies in Addison. Joint projects, such as improving the village’s parks and creating an Addison Center for the Arts, couldn’t have been completed without trust among everyone, he said.

“It’s a culture we’ve tried to develop of cooperation,” Hartwig said.

Hartwig, first elected as village trustee in 1987, formerly served as a teacher and school administrator. He finished his education career in 2001 – while still mayor – when he retired from his job as a principal in Wood Dale.

As a social studies teacher, Hartwig always had an interest in political affairs. His educator background helped him learn conflict resolution, along with how to deal with people of all stripes.

While Hartwig considers himself a Republican, he’s happy to keep local politics nonpartisan.

“My advice is neither party get involved in local politics,” he said. “It’s a different type of politics, which is very positive.”

Other than visiting Village Hall now and again, residents will still see Hartwig around town. The former skier and tennis player plans to stay in shape at the park district’s fitness center and continue enjoying meals with his wife, Sandy, at Dapper’s every Sunday after church.

For the couple’s upcoming 50th wedding anniversary, Larry and Sandy are looking forward to a cruise with their two children and their spouses. Hartwig also will kick back with plenty of rounds of golf in retirement.

But he admits he’ll miss the old office.

“I’ve enjoyed it,” Hartwig said. “I’ve never had a job where you watch the clock.”

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