‘Skip’ Lee: Thank you for the opportunity to serve as Sterling mayor

Former Sterling Mayor Skip Lee took this selfie in his office – his "farewell picture" –  as he prepared to leave the post. May 1, 2023, was his last official day as mayor.

The dust has settled. Mayor Diana Merdian is on her way to making her mark on the community. There’s only one thing left for me to do: Say “thank you.”

I’m not going to mention names, because I know I would inadvertently leave someone out, and I don’t want to do that.

The last 12 years have been incredibly busy and challenging. The city of Sterling has made some real progress on a lot of fronts, and there is more on the horizon.

Being your mayor has been a privilege and one of the greatest honors of my life.

I would like to thank the citizens of Sterling for putting your trust in me to serve you, your help in moving the community forward, and all you have done to make Sterling a great place to live, play and work.

In my 18 years on the City Council, the people of Sterling have always been progressive and eager to move us forward. I have never been turned down when I asked for help, advice, or an opinion. Even those who disagreed with me have been valuable sources of information.

Our city team is phenomenal. Our employees are dedicated, hardworking, and efficient. They often work with people who, politely, are being “difficult.” Nevertheless, they do their absolute best to serve the public. I would like to thank all of them for making me look great.

Have we (this includes me) always been perfect? No. Have we made mistakes? Yes. Serving the public is a constant “work in progress” with a changing environment. I can guarantee you that our team is going to continue to do their best.

I would also like to thank the many city partners we have working with us: Greater Sterling Development Corp., Sterling Main Street, Sterling Today, Sauk Valley Chamber of Commerce, CGH Medical Center, Sauk Valley Bank, Sterling Public Schools, and the list goes on and on. Thank you to those named and unnamed. I appreciate you more than I can express.

I would be remiss if I didn’t thank my family and friends for their support. Sue, my phenomenal wife of almost 50 years, has been my “rock.” Without her, I would be nothing. Thank you, for always being there: taking the phone calls and making your schedule fit the demands of being a public servant.

Politics, today, gets a bad reputation from the extremes of our partisan actions on the state and national level. I am happy to say that doesn’t happen at the local level. All the demographics and philosophies which exist work for the betterment of our community. Local politics is all about service and progress. I thank all of those who have and are serving. I would encourage everyone to consider getting involved.

In conclusion, thank you, again, for the opportunity you gave me to serve. Thank you for the many kind words I have received. Thank you for being here for our great city.

Respectfully, Charles “Skip” Lee

• Charles “Skip” Lee first won election to mayor in April 2011, having previously served as alderman-at-large and president of the library board. He is a graduate of Eastern Illinois University and has a master’s degree from the University of Illinois. He taught science at Rock Falls High School, where was involved in many extracurricular activities, and at Sauk Valley Community College.