A loose thought to enter politics 5 years ago, and now Vitek is St. Charles' new mayor
Five years ago, running for political office was just a thought in the back of Lora Vitek's mind.
Last week, she was elected mayor of St. Charles.
The rapid rise is not lost on Vitek, a first-term alderman in the 4th Ward who defeated 5th Ward Alderman Maureen Lewis in the April 6 election by garnering 56% of the vote. She'll replace Ray Rogina, who announced in September he was retiring and not seeking a third term.
"A lot of people see me as a politician, but that's not how I see myself," Vitek said. "I've been in philanthropy all my life and wanted to make a difference in the community. That's my extent in politics, and it just so happened this was an opportunity that came up.
"This hasn't been about politics for me," she said. "It's about the community."
When she's sworn in on May 3, Vitek, executive director at the Delta Dental of Illinois charitable foundation, will become the second female mayor in St. Charles history and the first since Sue Klinkhamer served from 1997 to 2005.
Even though Vitek is a relative political newcomer, the Palos Heights native still attracted the endorsement of several prominent figures in St. Charles including Rogina, former mayor and current State Sen. Don DeWitte and the longest-tenured alderman on the city council, Dan Stellato from Ward 1.
In giving his endorsement, Rogina praised Vitek's energy and business acumen.
"Lora Vitek will provide dynamic leadership to our city," he said. "Her vision, work ethic and common sense will serve as major assets as we arrest ourselves from COVID-19 and plan an exciting future for our city and the Fox Valley."
Vitek takes the helm at a turbulent time in the city as it deals with the financial fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. And in addition to four new aldermen joining the city council next month, longtime City Administrator Mark Koenen is retiring in the middle of May.
Among the many priorities at the start of her mayoral term, Vitek said, finding Koenen's replacement is at the top of the list. She's already scheduling meetings with department heads to get their thoughts on a position that will be critical as the city progresses through many projects.
Also primary for Vitek is the 1st Street Plaza Project, a key development along the Fox River. She's been the chair of the St. Charles Initiative that's helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for the project, including $600,000 from Exelon.
But in the midst of her preparation to hit the ground running, Vitek took time out on Wednesday to take her kids, Grace and Quinn, to a Chicago White Sox game.
White Sox pitcher Carlos Rodon threw a no-hitter to cap quite a week for the new mayor of St. Charles.
"People who know me would think this was not necessarily surprising that I went for it and had the guts to do it," Vitek said of her new office. "And I do think it took some guts to do it."