Deb Waszak named next village administrator in Fox Lake
Deb Waszak, chief of staff to Mayor Leon Rockingham in North Chicago, will be heading west to Fox Lake as the new village administrator.
Waszak, who is well-known among Lake County municipal leaders, was selected from more than 70 applicants from Oregon to Vermont, according to Fox Lake Mayor Donny Schmit.
The field was narrowed to eight, with three finalists interviewed by the staff and the village board. Her appointment was approved earlier this month.
"Deb was the unanimous selection," Schmit said. "She fits our needs."
She starts Aug. 16 at an annual salary of $173,600.
Waszak, a Libertyville resident, served as chief of staff in North Chicago from 2005 to 2009. She was named as Mettawa's first village administrator in 2010.
She had served as an independent contractor in that post and declined to renew her contract after a year. She said she tended to mom duties and worked for the Lake County Municipal League before returning full time to North Chicago in January 2015.
"Deb has been a valuable member of my administration throughout most of my tenure as mayor of North Chicago," Rockingham said. "Her hard work and enthusiasm will be missed."
Waszak oversaw a revitalization plan that included "blight busting" by acquiring or demolishing about dozen properties and a summer youth employment program that has grown every year.
The city also cut $1 million to properly fund pensions, outsourced 911 service, made plans to break ground on a commercial area called Sheridan Crossings and embarked on other initiatives.
"Her record in North Chicago with the blighted homes, getting grants and completing and carrying out projects was big," Schmit added.
Waszak will stay in North Chicago until Aug. 13 and is making plans for her transition. She said it's tough to leave.
"Most of what I was tasked with in North Chicago has been completed or is at the finish line," she said. "It was a good time to move on."
Schmit said there are three main initiatives in Fox Lake: expanding the village's lakefront park, dealing with vacant or blighted homes, and implementing a plan to optimize the village staff.
Fox Lake has been without a top administrator since March 5, when Anne Marrin resigned to seek other opportunities, Schmit said.
"We just need some leadership and guidance," Schmit said, adding that he thinks Waszak will "be perfect."
Marrin had served more than seven years. Her tenure included the tumultuous period following the death of police Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz in 2015 that focused national attention on the village.
Following a massive manhunt, Gliniewicz's death was determined to be a suicide.
In 2016, Marrin received statewide recognition for an internal financial investigation -- before Gliniewicz killed himself -- of the police Explorer youth group he had used for financial gain.