Former LF Mayor Mike Rummel: Our Way Of Life, The Caucus Will Survive
"Whichever way the final votes tally," says the ex-Lake Forest mayor, "please rest assured life as we know it in Lake Forest will not end."
Press Release Desk, News Partner
Posted Thu, Mar 16, 2023 at 5:34 pm CT
Mike Rummel served two terms as a Lake County Board member following his two terms as Lake Forest mayor. (Campaign photo, file)
Letter to the editor from Mike Rummel, who served as Lake Forest mayor from 2005 to 2009:
As a former mayor, I have watched with interest as the race between Prue Beidler, Randy Tack and Paul Hamann unfolds. I have seen everything from assertions made by candidates and their surrogates, that the way of life as we know it in Lake Forest will end, and that one or the other candidate is not right for Lake Forest. This is not an endorsement of Prue Beidler, Randy Tack or Paul Hamann, but rather a perspective of the past and a look to the future.
We all learn from history, and in the history of Lake Forest there have been other candidates who have run against the Caucus, there have been other candidates who defeated the Caucus and have served the city well as aldermen. The world did not end, nor did the things we hold dear in Lake Forest cease to exist. These individuals served with integrity and worked in the best interests of the community we all share and love. Why wouldn’t they? To do otherwise would be self-defeating. They are our friends and neighbors, local community volunteers who each have a stake in preserving what we cherish about our community.
Contested elections can be healthy for the community, so residents can make an informed decision about who they want as their leaders. Instead of embracing civil discourse, a lot of time, money and energy has been spent villainizing one another and demonizing independent candidates for daring to run.
In my experience, independent candidates often press a reset button and alert us out of our complacency. A resident has the right to disagree with the Caucus’ choice and has the right to run as an independent candidate.
Find out what's happening in Lake Forest-Lake Bluffwith free, real-time updates from Patch.
When I was first asked to run as alderman by the Caucus, both second ward council members were from another party. When my wife ran for alderman, again as a candidate endorsed by the Caucus, an independent candidate opposed her. At no time did any of the candidates speak ill of one another. We are all citizens of this great city, and there was no need for that. We talked about the facts, who would be a better candidate, and we let the voters decide who would be best for the city. That does NOT seem to be happening in this race.
Former Mayor Howard Kerr ran for three terms as mayor (that was the way it was back then, three one-year terms) and each time he ran, he had an opponent. There was no negative campaigning, no mockery, just dealing with the facts and letting the voters decide. In each case, Howard was successful. However, life in our city as we know it would not have ended, and at no time did Howard ever make that assertion. Instead, I believe the city was stronger for all these candidates bringing their views forward and letting the voters decide.
In my recollection, when Howard Kerr ran, when my wife ran, when I ran several times, or when any other independent candidate ran, no one questioned our donations to other political candidates of any partisan political party, nor was our political party affiliation a campaign issue.
One of the Heritage Party candidates who sat on City Council when I was mayor eventually became my finance committee chairman and did a fine job. In later elections, he became an uncontested Caucus candidate. He was even interviewed by the Caucus for mayor. I fear all this negative campaigning will never allow that to happen again — but it should.
We are neighbors, we are friends. This is the community we have chosen as our home and in many cases where we have chosen to raise our children - in some cases, for generations. No one person is going to change that, nor should they be vilified for running.
Whichever way the final votes tally, please rest assured life as we know it in Lake Forest will not end. The Caucus system will survive. Your trash will still be picked up, your streets repaired, our beautiful beach will be maintained, our programs will continue. We will continue to care for our senior citizens and importantly, we will maintain our AAA Bond rating. Our city will remain the gem it is no matter who is mayor. Let’s treat each other with respect, debate the differing views, and then decide on a rational choice unburdened by concerns that our community’s well-being is at stake.
So go to the polls and vote, but not out of fear that this is anything more than a local municipal election among three qualified candidates who have different perspectives on how they wish to serve our community. This is not some divisive plot to end the Caucus. If it was, there would be non-caucus candidates running for all elected positions. Each candidate deserves our respect for bravely raising their hand to serve us in the tough, demanding, and self-sacrificing job of mayor.