LA GRANGE – The village board of La Grange had a changing of the guard with the departure, and welcoming, of two trustees.
During their May 11 meeting the board bid a fond farewell to trustees Jim Palermo and Jeff Nowak and swore into office Malia Arnett and Michael Kotynek, along with Mark Kuchler, who was re-elected.
For Palermo, who was absent at the meeting, members of the board spoke about his adherence to fiscal responsibility and never being afraid to challenge his fellow trustees during his eight year tenure, which began in 2007.
"I don't think there is a trustee who works for the village board between hours like Jim," trustee Kuchler said. "Every tax dollar was spent as efficiently as possible."
Trustee David McCarty said that Palermo was, "A very complex individual. Jim showed me that there are several additional levels when reading financial documents. [Palermo] was never afraid to challenge me."
Added trustee Jeff Nowak, "You always had to be prepared for a conversation with Jim."
For Nowak, the board recognized his four years of service as a champion for village infrastructure and his unflinching positivity towards public service.
"This is a good man," Village Board President Thomas Livingston said. "He looks at the village with his head and his heart. We appreciate the positivity [Nowak] brought."
Other members of the board expressed their hope that Nowak will continue his service to the village in some capacity.
"I view Jeff as a real leader, on the board and professionally," trustee Kuchler said. "I hope he continues to remain with the village."
Trustee McCarty added that, "Jeff personifies the duty of service. He is what we aspire to be in our service."
Nowak said his departure was bittersweet, and said he was not adverse to continuing his service to the village in some way.
"I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with such fabulous colleagues," Nowak said. "It's been a privilege to help plan the future of La Grange. I'll always be open to helping in some capacity."
The board then concluded their meeting by swearing in its new members, Malia Arnett and Michael Kotynek.
For Kotynek, being part of the La Grange 2020 Task Force advisory panel gave him the motivation to seek a seat on the board.
"I was in the 2020 Task Force," trustee Kotynek said. "[I thought] this would be a great chance to continue that work. I want to keep La Grange a great place to live. It's an honor and I'm looking forward to it."
Malia Arnett is the CEO of Chidlink, a non-profit child-services organization run out of Chicago.
According to Arnett, it was her neighbors who got her interested in seeking a position on the village board.
"I want to be involved in the public scene," trustee Arnett said. "My neighbors got me into the idea. I'm very excited to be able to participate and provide support where I can [for the board.]"