This month two longtime local public officials are calling it a career, both having served their respective communities in some capacity for nearly 40 years.
Judy Sollinger stepped down from the Oswego Village Board during an April 20 meeting. In Montgomery, Denny Lee attended his last meeting as a board member April 26. Both officials chose not to seek another term in the April 6 election.
Sollinger’s involvement in Oswego’s government dates back to the mid-1980s when the former legal secretary was elected village clerk. Back then, the village’s population was less than 4,000 and the only retail shopping district in the village was its downtown. Later, after a brief absence from village government, Sollinger returned to serve multiple terms on the Village Board.
Over the years, Sollinger always was a calming presence on the board as it faced a torrent of often controversial annexation and development proposals as the village became one of the fastest growing communities in Illinois.
Before his election to the Montgomery Village Board, Lee was instrumental in organizing the annual MontgomeryFest celebration, and then went on to play a key role in the establishment and operation of the Montgomery Economic Development Corporation.
Like Sollinger in Oswego, Lee served Montgomery at a time of unprecedented growth. The village’s western boundary extended to Orchard Road when Lee began his board tenure. Today, about half of the village’s population of more than 19,000 lives in subdivisions west of Orchard Road.
Sollinger and Lee were strikingly different in demeanor. While Sollinger was always diplomatic, Lee was direct and often blunt in stating his views. But both officials more often than not took the long-term view as they worked effectively with their colleagues to build consensus and chart the direction of their respective communities.
Unfortunately, their departure from public service means that the two villages have just lost a combined nearly 80 years of institutional knowledge, a precious commodity in any growing community.
We wish them both well in their future endeavors and believe that Oswego and Montgomery are better communities today because of their dedicated service.
- Record Newspapers Editorial Board