Holiday Hills’ Village Board paid homage to its late Village President Lou French during a special meeting Wednesday, and appointed someone to fill the vacancy he left.
French, 64, died Sunday at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington. He was in his second term as village president, and before that worked as a firefighter and paramedic for Nunda Township and Fox Lake. He also served as a village trustee before being elected president.
The meeting opened up with a moment of silence, with some trustees shedding tears. At French’s seat in the middle of the table sat a pot of flowers in his honor, with the meeting’s gavel laid in front.
“Louis French, also known as Lou and Louie … was committed and dedicated to doing only the best for the development and friendly environment of the village,” resident Ireta Jimmie said during public comments. “His energy and involvement in the business of managing the many responsibilities designated to the president were enormous. We will miss you Lou.”
Village attorney Jennifer Gibson led the meeting, saying “as sad and devastating as it may be,” there was a need to appoint an acting village president. She said the board had the option to either appoint one of its six members, or pick someone else in the village.
After five of its members said they weren’t interested due to time constraints and being unable to keep up with the responsibilities, the role fell to Trustee Jeff Giles, who was sworn in during the meeting.
“It’s tough shoes to fill,” Giles said. “I don’t have a lot of spare time, so having people have my back would be [very helpful].”
Giles will serve as acting president until the village’s next local election in April 2023, Gibson said. He also will have the choice of either staying in or resigning from his current trustee role.
If he chooses to resign, among other pros and cons, he would be able to appoint a new person to the board, but would have to rerun for either village president or trustee next year if he wants to stay on the board. His current trustee role is not up for reelection until 2025.
If he resigns as trustee and appoints a new person, they would have to run again in 2023 as well. Giles said he wanted to take time to think about what he wants to do.
“We … and I think even the residents have noticed you have a lot of dedication,” Trustee Cheryl Thompson said to Giles during the meeting.
Despite the occasion, business with the residents didn’t stop. Many gave comments that sparked discussion about ongoing work in the village, and needed changes to the village’s website.
“I will definitely try to get you answers,” Giles said to the residents.