Local News

Streator’s first female mayor Tara Bedei sworn in

New mayor says she’s up to the challenge, wants to be a role model for other women

Streator Mayor Tara Bedei (left) is sworn-in Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022, by City Clerk Patricia Henderson (right) in the council chambers of City Hall. Bedei is Streator's first female mayor.

Streator’s new mayor Tara Bedei is used to being a trailblazer.

She was sworn-in Tuesday as the city’s first female mayor, but it’s nothing new in her career to find herself as the only woman or one of just a few women in a particular field.

After serving on the City Council for eight years — the longest of any current member — she was named Jan. 4 by her colleagues on council to succeed Jimmie Lansford, who resigned Dec. 31.

Intrigued by mechanical science, Bedei was captivated at a young age to help her father fix cars in his garage and she majored in engineering in college.

“There were a lot of times I was the only one or one of two women in my engineering classes,” she said of her studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

She previously worked in engineering at Caterpillar and now works as a plant manager at Streator Dependable — both male-dominated fields.

When she worked at Caterpillar, Bedei said she participated in a science, technology, engineering and mathematics program for young girls, introducing them to skills normally not geared toward them.

Having worked as one of only a few women in these fields, she said she understands there may be more weight on her as the first female mayor, but she’s ready for the challenge.

“People may watch me a little closer because I’m the first one,” Bedei said. “I think it’s going to be important to be a good role model for young girls.”

She said she would like to be goal-oriented in her new position. She also would like to see the city hang its strategic plan on the City Hall council chamber walls for the public and council members to reference and to use for accountability, for example.

With Bedei sworn-in as mayor, the council will move toward selecting someone to fill her seat. The City Council will be accepting cover letters and resumes from interested residents until 1 p.m. Friday, Jan. 21. These resumes can be dropped off at City Hall, 204 S. Bloomington St.

The council has 60 days to fill the vacancy. The candidate selected will serve until the next regular municipal election, which is set for 2023. When Joe Scarbeary resigned from the council, the city interviewed three candidates out of at least five applications received, selecting Timothy Geary as its newest member.