SYCAMORE – DeKalb County Board Chairman Mark Pietrowski says he will follow through with a pledge to not seek reelection in 2020 because he wants to focus on his career in higher education.
Pietrowski, a Cortland Democrat, first was elected to the board in 2012 and has been its chairman since 2014. He announced he wasn’t going to run for reelection as chairman or as a county board member when he was elected chairman for the third time as in December 2018.
Pietrowski, 37, will leave the board after November 2020.
“I’m passing on the baton to others in the community to continue the culture of respect and service that I feel we’ve done since I was elected in 2012,” Pietrowski said Thursday.
Josh Orr, 40, of Cortland, is running as a Democrat for Pietrowski’s 3rd District seat. He has no Republican opponent.
Orr said Pietrowski approached him about running for the seat and that Pietrowski already has endorsed him. Just as Pietrowski wants to see the bipartisanship and the open communication continue on the board once he leaves, Orr said that’s one of his goals, too.
Pietrowski said at the time he knew he wasn’t running again, he and the board put in a rule of leadership term limits.
“Someone can only serve as county board chair for a max of six years,” he said.
They also can only serve as county leadership for 12 years. Pietrowski said this way allows new voices to sit on the board. He said he wanted to be in line with DeKalb County’s history.
“Looking back, no one has served for more than six years as county chair,” Pietrowski said. “I wanted to adhere to that and make that a rule. I could have run again and served for two more years, but I didn’t want to deal with that. I felt like it was time.”
Pietrowski said being a public servant to the county is a great honor.
He likes the fact that his tenure on the board will end soon after his next educational advancement. Pietrowski expects to complete a Ph.D. in educational leadership with an emphasis in community college leadership in May 2020, six months before the end of his county board term.
“We joked it’s like I’ve got two full-time jobs,” he said about teaching and serving as County Board chairman. “It’ll be a little bit of an adjustment for me with the free time.”
Pietrowski said he wants to further pursue his work in education. He’s taught various communication classes at Northern Illinois University for 15 years, and he’s been involved in administrative work for more than 12 years. He is currently the faculty advisor for NIU’s Public Relations Student Society of America, which is for students interested in public relations and communication, according to NIU’s website.
Pietrowski said he thought his time on the board was a success.
“I accomplished much of what I wanted to do,” he said. “There’s still a lot we want to get done and I want to see through. I feel like we’ve built a culture of respect, open communication and bipartisanship.”
Orr said with Pietrowski leaving in November 2020, it’ll be an unfortunate loss for the county.
“He’s been a great chairman,” Orr said. “As a friend, I’m personally happy for him that he’s going to fulfill his educational ambition. I think the county board’s gonna miss a strong voice and I hope to fill his seat, his presence and his uniting personality as best I can.”