Montgomery Mayor Marilyn Michelini ready to retire from life in public office
By Judy Pochel For The Beacon-News February 7, 2013 3:37PM
Mayor Marilyn Michelini talks with new residents during her last "coffee with the mayor" at the Montgomery Police Department on Saturday, Feruary 2, 2013. Michelini will retire after the April election, after 25 years in office, including the last 10 as mayor. | Steven Buyansky~Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 10, 2013 6:07AM
MONTGOMERY — It’s hard to imagine Fox Valley politics without Marilyn Michelini, but that is just what’s on the horizon as the woman who has been at the forefront of many local legislative issues for the past 25 years has decided to retire.
Born Marilyn Boozel, she said working on her family’s Earlville dairy farm required her to milk cows and collect eggs a few times a day. Little did she know at that time she would leave the farm, marry, raise children and shape politics for decades from a town not far from where she grew up.
After Marilyn Boozel graduated from Earlville High School, she married her high school sweetheart, Richard, and had celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary before his death in 2003. The couple had five children and had left the Fox Valley area when they both attended Colorado State University.
She and her husband bought a home in what was then Aurora. The area was eventually annexed into today’s Montgomery where her husband served as a trustee and she began her service to the public.
“I ran for county clerk, I didn’t win and thought I’d never be a candidate,” she said.
She then focused her energy in the district, serving on the YWCA board and later worked as the district area outreach director.
In 1982, Michelini agreed to complete the term of a retiring board member in Kane County.
After that, she found herself visiting residents of Montgomery, asking for their signatures on her nomination petition.
Michelini served as a trustee in the village in 1987, having the auspicious position of being the first female to serve on the board. In 2001 she ran for mayor and has served in that capacity ever since.
“There was no manager in the early days and my background was in finance,” she explained.
“We had 4,000 residents back then and now we have 18,000, it has grown,” the mayor says of the village she proudly calls home.
When asked what memory is her proudest, she recalls several.
“The amount of growth since I became mayor. It has grown 200 percent. The widening of Orchard Road and now Route 30, but the biggest accomplishment is the new Village Hall,” she said.
Her other favorite projects are serving on the Historic Preservation Commission and the Beautification Committee. Coordinating flower plantings on the bridge, banners in the downtown and other beautification efforts were always at the top of her duty list.
Michelini will serve as the leader of the village for another few months until a newly elected official takes the oath of office in mid-May. The election is in early April, in which three people will be on the ballot for the top spot. Michelini said she would not be publically endorsing any candidate.
“I do believe in term limits, I do like to travel, I have children out of town and right now my visits can only be four or five days because I have to get back,” she said of retirement plans.
For someone who has been a public servant for so many decades, the mayor says she will not stay out of politics and said she will find an area where her experience is a plus and will serve in that capacity.
For the past 10 years or so, she has been hosting quarterly breakfasts for residents to come and tell her what is on their minds and how she can improve life in the village that sits along the Fox River.
She hosted her last mayoral breakfast this past weekend, when numerous people came out to show her their support. Many said they just wanted to come and say goodbye to someone they have become fond of and who has led the village through some tough times.
Christopher Williams and Cheryl Pruett were newcomers to the session. Pruett said she saw the invitation on her water bill and the village newsletter.
“We figured it was a good way to find out what is going on,” she said.
Ben Brzoska is a candidate for trustee in the April election and said he came to socialize with those who do attend the breakfasts and to find out what issues the residents find the most important.
“These have been good sessions and we get to talk about things,” said JoAnn Kyes, another frequent visitor to the morning events.
Maureen Flinn said she came just to visit but found out more about a Neighborhood Watch in her community. “We have vacant homes that are deteriorating,” she said.
Michelini said after she leaves office it will be up to the next mayor to determine if the informal sessions will continue. She said this last one was simply to say goodbye.
“There were no pressing issues,” she said of the visitors.
Just last week, State Rep. Kay Hatcher had a resolution passed in honor of the mayor. All Village Board meetings begin with a three-minute opportunity for members of the public to address the board with concerns. When Hatcher asked to speak, the mayor told her she cuts people off at three minutes and how did she plan to do a legislative update in that amount of time.
It was then that she was presented with an official House Resolution, complete with gold seals, stating Michelini is “being honored for decades of dedicated service, played an active role as a trustee and was the only woman on the board earning a reputation for always doing her homework, thereby gaining the respect of fellow board members.”
The accolades go on to state that “a suitable copy of this resolution be presented to President Michelini as an expression of our esteem and respect.”
After the document was read, all in a very crowded Village Hall rose and applauded.