A week after President Donald Trump gave his State of the Union, Mayor Tim Baldermann delivered his State of the Village that put New Lenox in the same camp of those opposed to divisiveness.
In front of a packed room at the Silver Cross Hospital Conference Center Feb. 6, Baldermann painted a picture of a Village resistant to the rhetoric used by Trump and other politicians.
“It’s a unique time; it’s not a good time in politics,” Baldermann said. “We live in a very divided country. There are those who profit from that division, they like to fan the flames of division.”
Baldermann said New Lenox stands by its mission to serve its residents, even though there is a trend in other governmental entities putting politics before the people.
“Although we don’t see or read or hear about political parties coming together to work, I can tell you that in this community, it happens,” he said. “We are non-partisan at the Village level. We don’t belong to a particular party when it comes to running for office. We have our own individual beliefs, but we are non-partisan. We are represented at partisan levels by Republicans and Democrats, and I do tell you, … anytime I pick up that telephone and make a phone call, I get the same good service by both sides. That’s what matters to me as mayor of New Lenox. It’s that we’ve got friends willing to put people before party and people before politics and serve their constituents.”
Baldermann said the growth that New Lenox has made over the last year can be attributed, in part, to the Village’s commitment to marketing itself nationally.
“New Lenox has been and will always be, as along as I am mayor, the home of proud Americans,” he said. “That is how we feel, who we are, that is what we respect.”
The Village is recognized for its ability to market itself through events.
“We have so much to offer,” Baldermann said.
During the Village’s Christmas in the Commons, for example, letters sent to Santa show that people from more than 60 communities made a trip to New Lenox to take part in the festivities.
Baldermann said it’s nice to see people come together, and it serves as a plus for spreading the word about the community.
Over the last year, New Lenox has worked to bring in 25 new businesses.
Baldermann gave credit to the Village’s trustees for having the wherewithal to exercise a business acumen to help spur development.
The Village prides itself on being one of the fastest growing communities in Will County.
“I know not everybody, here, lives in New Lenox, but we’re here to brag about New Lenox today and talk about all the good things that are happening,” Baldermann said.
Through the end of 2017, New Lenox issued 195 housing permits that makes it the No. 2 growing community in Will County next to the City of Joliet.
New Lenox prides itself on being commonly recognized for its schools.
“New Lenox has grown, and it continues to be the primary reason that we grow is the education that our families can get for their children,” Baldermann said.
Baldermann acknowledged the challenges that schools face funding-wise and said despite the adversity, they do an outstanding job.
The Village has shown a continued commitment to working with its schools over the years.
“We don’t do [tax increment financing districts,]” Baldermann said after his presentation. “It takes money away. Anytime there’s construction, we waive the fees. … We utilize each other’s properties. When I was first elected in 2001, there were horrible relationships. We worked to fix that, and we continue to work on it.”
Baldermann said it’s important that the community do the right things for the long-term health of New Lenox.
With social media, people sometimes find it easy to be divisive in these times.
“It is an extremely difficult, negative time, so what I would say, as mayor, that I tell myself, and I have to remind myself, and I would say to all of you—elected officials, CEOs, small business owners—keep your head up, because the majority of the people that you are serving appreciate you,” Baldermann said. “Forget the negativity.”