Arlene Mulder will be stepping down next spring as village president of Arlington Heights after a tenure of 2 decades and many more years in public service beyond that.
The village has had many outstanding mayors over the decades, but Mulder takes a back seat to none of them.
On her watch, the village has metamorphosed into a modern suburb with a thriving and energetic downtown that is the envy of its neighbors. The Metropolis was saved, the Arlington Park racetrack has been sustained, a new train depot was added and an impressive municipal building was built.
Some of these projects and others have been controversial, but in total Mulder has had a significant positive impact on Arlington Heights and has become the face of the community.
Think about that example when you think about the importance of the upcoming local elections.
As we've said previously in this space, yes, the recent elections for president, Congress, the Illinois General Assembly and county offices were important and will have an impact on your life.
But the local election campaigns that already have begun will have an impact that you can touch and see.
Mulder isn't the only departing mayor worthy of tribute and of being held up as an example.
In St. Charles, Don DeWitte is stepping down after two terms as mayor and several others as a member of the city council.
Impact? He oversaw the early phases of construction on the $100 million First Street development project and pushed through construction of the Red Gate Road bridge.
In Addison, Larry Hartwig has helped remake the community in 17 years as village president.
In Mettawa, Jess Ray has helped maintain the open-space nature and environment of one of Lake County's most beautiful suburbs.
In Des Plaines, Marty Moylan shepherded in the arrival of the Rivers Casino and trimmed the payroll to get the city back in the black.
In Glen Ellyn, Mark Pfefferman worked to maintain the village's standards and aesthetics in its dispute with the College of DuPage and oversaw a transition in the administrative offices at village hall.
In Mount Prospect, Irvana Wilks led a rebirth of the downtown that saw the construction of a new municipal building and library.
All these mayors will be departing this spring. They deserve our thanks for their contributions.
But as important, their deeds should remind us of the real-life impact the local elections have on all of us -- not just in our municipalities but also in our schools, our parks, our libraries and our townships.
The nominating petitions are being circulated now. Some even have been filed. The general election date is April 9. Mark it on your calendar. Educate yourself on the candidates and the issues. Prepare yourself to vote.