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posted: 5/10/2010 12:01 AM

Lisle mayor's day starts early, ends late

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  • Joseph Broda

      Joseph Broda

 
 

TUESDAY, MAY 4, LISLE VILLAGE HALL - What is a day like in the public life of the mayor of Lisle?

7:55 a.m. Lisle Mayor Joseph Broda is at a copy machine printing a graphic that shows all of Lisle's elected officials beginning with the first mayor in 1956. Broda is the longest, continuously serving public official in Lisle history, since he was a trustee for 15 years before being elected mayor in 2001.

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8 a.m. "In the village of Lisle, we are not party-affiliated," Broda says. "We work for the people and are reachable to our community."

There is no job manual for being mayor, no special training, no big salary, no automobile and no medical benefits.

"I put a lot into my position as mayor and I get a lot of self-satisfaction out of it," he says.

The mayor's desk is neat. He has a half-dozen invites nearby as reminders. On one wall is a collage of photos and plaques including an American flag made by a grandchild's hand prints; a photo and note from TV personality Pat Sajak, who was Broda's classmate; and photos of Broda with former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and another with Colin Powell.

As Lisle's mayor, Broda actually has less power than he had as trustee.

"A mayor only votes when there is a tie," Broda says. "I do have executive privileges and veto power."

"The day I was elected mayor, after we were at Baroni's, when leaving I decided to go around and pick up some signs," Broda says. "As I am doing this, I was thinking, 'Joe what are you going to do now?' It didn't take me long to decide what I was supposed to do."

Broda looks on his role as being a peacemaker. He is known for being able to guide a conversation so everyone has an opportunity to talk and he makes it a point to discuss all facts.

"There are always two sides to every story," Broda says. "The truth lies somewhere in between. That is the difficult part of the job, to hear both sides and then come up with a win-win situation, if possible."

At career days at local schools, he role plays with students the mayor's decision-making process. He asks himself, "What decision is best for the whole community?"

8:10 a.m. The mayor picks up his e-mails and phone messages. He saves all correspondence and is known for his quick and personal replies.

"I like to know who I am talking to," Broda says. "They know who I am, so how can I really help them if I do not know who they are?"

8:15 a.m. The mayor enters the offices of Village Manager Jerry Sprecher to recap last night's village board meeting and to make sure both are on the right track for staff direction.

The mayor is pleased that recent property tax bills went down on the portion of the bill that goes to the village of Lisle.

"We are doing a good job holding the line," Broda says. "The police pension section is up, but that we can't control."

As Broda leaves, he meets Village Management Analyst Eric Ertmoed, who oversaw the Sustainable Saturday recycling program and reports that it all went well. The mayor responds that residents have told him the lines moved smoothly.

9 a.m. Broda walks into the conference room to greet residents at his monthly Coffee with the Mayor. There is a tray of various doughnuts and hot coffee. One person has a small list of items to ask and she leaves with her answers. A majority of the standing-room-only crowd of 16 came to talk about the large Navistar project that's before the Building and Zoning Commission.

It is not the coffee and doughnuts that draw people the first Tuesday of every month, it is time with the mayor. Broda listens, reassures, informs and feels the intensity of debate.

10 a.m. The mayor returns to his office where a representative from the Secretary of State's office confirms the Aug. 19 date for the state office to be at the village hall as a convenience to residents. All services will be available except road testing.

10:15 a.m. The mayor heads to a back office to a pile of documents that require his official signature. There are purchase orders, change orders and an annexation agreement for 24W350 Maple Ave. He is pleased that the village received some grant money toward sidewalk repairs. As he returns to his office, he peeks his head into a few staff members' offices to delegate details that need attention following his Coffee with the Mayor session.

10:45 a.m. Administrative secretary Donna Sitts steps in with a pile of paperwork to brief the mayor on village plans for Memorial Day. She shows him a copy of a new flier and brochure. The mayor agrees to give a short speech. She ordered hundreds of small American flags he and the trustees can distribute at the start of the parade.

"I know this is not a political parade, but I want to make sure those flags are waving when the veterans come by," Broda says.

11:10 a.m. Trustee Mark Boyle is in the mayor's office and points out that Broda serves as vice president of the Illinois Municipal League. The mayor also has served as president and vice president of the DuPage Mayors and Managers Conference.

The conversation includes work on the Garfield Basin as a gathering place for the community. Grant money will, in effect, pay the cost of its playground. Both men have been asked to include some picnic tables.

12 p.m. The conversation continues over lunch at Yerbabuena Mexican Cuisine on Main Street.

1 p.m. Back at his office, the mayor answers a few questions. Can the mayor go to the Jewel without being stopped?

"Everywhere I go, I often get stopped, but at the Jewel I'm on a mission to go in and out," Broda says. "The biggest problem I have is remembering names. People know who I am, but I do not always know who they are."

The mayor shines when he talks to older residents. On the last Monday of the month, he has a special Coffee with the Mayor at the Devonshire. For that time, he plans a Power Point presentation or talks about things happening in town

"I try to give them my respect because they paid their dues. They worked hard," Broda says.

What are you most proud of for your term as mayor?

"The downtown area," he responds. "I look at how hard it was to get the ball going. We applied Band-Aids for many years, and never bit the bullet. We'd talk and talk. I had a lot of help and a board that was willing to work and saw the vision."

The mayor also is proud of the Sports Complex that gives Lisle High School, Benedictine University and Benet Academy a state-of-the-art facility to use.

"Those kids have their stadium," he said.

Regarding the village hall and the police department, Broda said the buildings were built with a vision of the future.

"We allocated dollars and saved our money to pay for the buildings," he said. "The ideas, technology and engineering that went into these building are well ahead of the times."

2 p.m. The mayor goes home for a few hours but his BlackBerry keeps him in touch.

6:30 p.m. The mayor arrives at village hall to attend to a little paper work. Then he goes out to the lobby to greet and meet the Lisle Teens With Character, its leaders and the teen's families.

7 p.m. Mayor Broda speaks at the Lisle Teens With Character year-end ceremonies in the board room. He congratulates the teens on all their accomplishments and thanks the parents for the important role they contribute. The mayor poses with groups for photos. After the ceremony, he mingles with the guests of all ages.

"Mayor, I live at - and I want you to know -," one constituent says. It's a conversation starter the mayor hears often.

8:25 p.m. With the crowd almost gone, Broda departs out the back door for home. He hopes his wife, Joanne, recorded "Dancing with the Stars" so he can watch the TV show. Since participating in the Lisle version a few years ago, he appreciates the work others do to make it happen.

Earlier in the day, the mayor said that if he had to make up his mind today whether to seek another term, "I would do it again."

For a part-time position, Lisle has a full-time mayor.

• Joan Broz writes about Lisle. E-mail her at jgbroz@yahoo.com.

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