Some international flair was added to the Round Lake Park village board Tuesday with the appointment of French native Sophia Boyer to fill a vacancy.
Boyer grew up in Aix en Provence in southern France, near the port city of Marseille, and came to the U.S. 17 years ago, when her husband, Patrick, was transferred for business.
The high school sweethearts lived in Gurnee and Lindenhurst before moving to Round Lake Park four years ago. The couple and their two children became U.S. citizens this spring at a ceremony in Chicago.
The 47-year-old lives just minutes away from village hall and had been inside to pay water bills and take care of miscellaneous business. But the civic-minded stay-at-home mom took a greater interest after seeing a call for trustee applicants on the village's message board along Washington Street.
The village board has been down a member since June, after the resignation of Trustee Patricia Williams, who had served since 2009.
"I didn't know what a trustee does or what it means," Boyer said.
So she asked Mayor Linda Lucassen.
"She brought her husband the first time we met and talked," said Lucassen, who fills vacant seats with the consent of the full board.
Lucassen, who served as village clerk for 14 years, trustee for two years and mayor the past five years, told Boyer public service is rewarding, but there are trade-offs.
"It's more than a Tuesday night meeting," Lucassen said. "It's dedicating and devoting a lot of time."
Boyer said she is up for that.
"I want to give back to the community I live in," said Boyer, who learned English at the College of Lake County. "I couldn't do it before because I wasn't a citizen. I like to listen to people and we (village board) can make a difference."
With 7,519 residents, Round Lake Park is about one-hundredth the size of Marseilles. The village is celebrating its 70th anniversary and has changed its logo and adopted a new slogan to attract business.
"We don't have a lot of bricks and mortar, but we sure have a lot of heart in that (village board) room," Lucassen said.
Boyer has been attending board meetings to get a handle on how things work.
"I'm listening and paying attention to what's going on," she said.
She admits being a bit nervous but says she is excited about the opportunity. She'll serve the remainder of Williams' term, which ends in 2019, and would have to seek election if she wanted to continue.
"I can't wait to go to the Christmas tree lighting and meet people and talk to them," she said.