The newest member of the DuPage County Board was voted into office Tuesday even as the board remembered the man she replaced.
Karyn Romano, a Glen Ellyn resident who owns public affairs business Metro Strategies, officially took over for former board member JR McBride after a unanimous vote to install her.
"I know [board member] Paul Fichtner said this morning I have big shoes to fill, and I do understand that's a little bit of an understatement," she said to the board after the vote. "I know JR was friends to all of you, so that makes me even more appreciative and thankful for all of you giving me this opportunity."
Romano was nominated by Chairman Dan Cronin to replace McBride, who died Oct. 24 after a long fight with cancer, and is set to serve out the remainder of McBride's term, which ends Nov. 30, 2016. It is her first office, she said.
She said the board and Glen Ellyn community all loved her predecessor and that while she was happy to have the opportunity, she would "rather have him here" than take his place.
The new board member said her experience in political consulting, particularly in the areas of legislation, economic development and transportation, would be her biggest assets to the board.
"I've always worked with or for government," she said. "And a lot of my experience has been regional and even throughout the state of Illinois, so I thought it was a real opportunity to bring that knowledge and experience to benefit here at the local level."
She will immediately take a role in some of those areas, as she was also voted to join the board's legislative and transit committees.
Fellow District 4 representatives Grant Eckhoff and Amy Grant, who helped Cronin in his decision, had good things to say about the newest member.
Both said her background as a small business owner would offer a different perspective than many others on the board.
"It's a good team for District 4," Eckhoff said.
They said they looked forward to getting to know her better, but kept McBride in their thoughts.
"No one can really fill JR's shoes – we miss JR, Grant and I miss him a lot," Grant said "He was not just a District 4 board member but also a very, very, very dear friend."