News - McHenry County

Crystal Lake names Haleblian acting mayor through 2021 election

Crystal Lake Acting Mayor Haig Haleblian.

The Crystal Lake City Council voted to have Haig Haleblian take over as the city’s acting mayor at Tuesday night’s meeting.

Haleblian, 69, will hold the position until a mayor is elected in a special election in 2021. The mayor elected in the special election will serve until the 2023 consolidated election. On Tuesday night, Haleblian said that he plans to run in that 2021 election as well.

Haleblian takes over the post left when Aaron Shepley, 56, died on May 4. Shepley was a City Council member from 1997-99 before being elected as mayor and serving 21 years. He was elected in April 2019 to another four-year-term.

The council was required to name an acting mayor within 60 days of Shepley's death or July 3.

"No one could ever fill Aaron Shepley’s shoes," said Haleblian, who told the council he spoke with the late mayor's wife, Regan Shepley, before the meeting to get her approval. "He was Superman, bigger than life but also a man of the people ... we could never forget Superman."

After being approved as acting mayor, Haleblian resigned his position as a council member and Crystal Lake will have 60 days to replace him, although Haleblian said he hoped to fill the role before then.

Haleblian owns Crystal Lake's Exceed Floor & Home. Haleblian said that he had been friends with Shepley for 30 years and it was Shepley who convinced him to join the city's economic development council, where he spent 12 years with two as chair.

When Jeff Thorsen left his seat on the city council in December 2015, Haleblian was appointed.

"Frankly, I felt that any one of us were more than capable to handle this position," Haleblian said during the meeting, saying that it's a credit to Shepley that so many council members are so capable.

"These guys are awesome. The city staff, council … they’ve all got the same goal in mind, to make Crystal Lake a great community."

Shepley’s death came just months after the death of longtime Crystal Lake Council member Ralph Dawson at age 90 in January after Dawson served 21 years on the council. Former Crystal Lake Mayor Robert Wagner died in December. He served as the city’s mayor from 1995-99.

Other council members added their thoughts on Shepley's death during the meeting, echoing Haleblian's sentiments that Shepley helped to create a council that was effective but also works well together. Council member Brett Hopkins, a longtime friend of Shepley, echoed other board members commending Shepley's work but also said "bring your own boots" and don't try to file someone else's.

Haleblian called Hopkins' comment on Shepley and moving forward profound.

"(Shepley) was just one of the smartest and genuine people I have ever met. ... I’ll never fill his boots."

“He was the mayor of this city for over half of my life,” City Council member Cameron Hubbard said. “He deserves our respect and he certainly has mine.”

Jon Styf

Jon Styf

Jon is the Senior News Editor of the Shaw Media Local News Network and the Editor of the Northwest Herald. He was previously the editor of The Herald-News in Joliet and Morris and a sports editor for Shaw Media at the Northwest Herald and Daily Chronicle.