South Elgin board members unanimously picked Trustee Steve Ward to serve as village president while honoring the memory of the late Jim Hansen by naming a park after him.
Ward will serve the rest of Hansen's term through the April 2015 election. Hansen died Nov. 1 after battling lung cancer.
"I'm honored to be nominated, and I am very grateful for the trust you have placed in me," Ward said Monday night.
The audience included Ward's fiancee and her children, Hansen's children and grandchildren, and members of the Hansen family.
"Jim Hansen made the job easy because he was dedicated, professional and a friend to the village," Ward said.
Ward served in the village's planning and zoning commission for nine years before being appointed to fill Hansen's seat 12 years ago. He ran for election two years later and was re-elected twice.
He works as a barber at the family-owned Ralph's Barber Shop in Elgin. He has lived in South Elgin for 25 years.
His priority will be to ensure a smooth transition and move forward, Ward said.
Trustee John Sweet, the most senior member of the board, served as acting village president for the last two board meetings.
"I think we've got the right person," he said of Ward, "and I'll still be his second man if he wants to take a meeting off."
"Obviously they wanted a pretty face for the face of South Elgin," Sweet added jokingly, "so they chose my barber over me."
Trustee Jennifer Barconi said that during one-on-one discussions, the board reached a consensus easily.
"(Ward) is very professional and a very good leader," she said.
The board has 60 days to fill Ward's trustee seat, Village Attorney Derek Price said. Ward said he expects the board will choose someone in December.
Meanwhile, any motion resulting in a tie from the six-member board would not move forward.
The board also unanimously voted to rename Concord Park, a 15-acre park at 338 Valley Forge Ave., Jim Hansen Park. The park has baseball fields, basketball courts, a soccer field and a sand volleyball court.
That's a fitting tribute to memorialize Hansen's service to the community, which included serving as South Elgin Little League president and helping raise funds for park amenities, Village Administrator Larry Jones said.
Trustee Mike Kolodziej suggested holding a dedication ceremony on the league's opening day.