New Mayor Reveals Top Priority for Term, Favorite Activities in Lake Forest
By David A. F. Sweet Lake Forest Mayor Dr. Randy Tack was born in Chicago. After high school, he attended the University of Illinois, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in biology, before heading to the University of Illinois College of Medicine. Randy graduated with honors in 1985.
In medical school, he met and married Liisa Merits of Lake Forest, with whom he had two children. While in residency, Randy was recruited by Lake Forest Orthopedics and specialized in spine surgery, prompting a fellowship at Rush Medical Center. After completion, he and Liisa moved their young family to Lake Forest. In 2002 his wife was diagnosed with glioblastoma and passed away in 2004. He later remarried and formed a merged family with his wife, Paula, and her two sons.
In 2011, Randy was elected as a 3rd Ward Alderman, serving multiple terms until 2018. Three years later, Randy was asked by the City Council to chair the Central Business District Ad Hoc Working Group. What were your first impressions of Lake Forest when you arrived in 1986?
I was struck by the natural beauty and open space in the community. I grew up in a western suburb that, although nice, had significantly less natural space, and certainly no natural assets comparable to our lakefront. I was also struck by the remarkable downtown business district, specifically, Market Square, and the beautiful estate homes throughout Lake Forest.
"I was struck by the natural beauty and open space in the community," says Lake Forest Mayor Randy Tack -- pictured with his wife Paula -- about his initial impression of Lake Forest.
What were the most important things you learned when you were an alderman?
The most important thing I learned was the high level of expertise of our city staff. The amount of institutional knowledge held by our staff is truly remarkable, and it allows for highly skilled responses to community problems and issues. The skill set of the city staff allows the volunteer citizen government to function at a remarkable level while empowering the volunteers on the City Council to focus on policy rather than day to day decision making, and allows Boards and Commissions to focus on the specific issues within their purview.
What accomplishments did the Central Business District working group have while you were chair?
The purpose of the central business district working group was to update, at a high-level, the vision for the central business district over the next 10-15 years. It was not the charge of the working group to make specific recommendations about the future of individual properties within the district. Our goal was to provide a framework for business owners, property owners, and developers to facilitate future development in ways that would be compatible with the historic character of our central business district while addressing the needs of growth and change within the business environment. The document that resulted from our work has subsequently been presented to the Plan Commission, refined, and will soon be considered by the City Council for adoption as part of the Comprehensive Land Use Plan and implementation.
What are the top priorities during your mayoral term?
The top priority of any mayor of the city is to maintain a sound financial position of the city. All other accomplishments emanate from this. It is my expectation that significant development will occur within the central business district over the next two to four years. I hope to shepherd this process such that vitality within the district is enhanced, and the development that occurs is very compatible with the current character and historic nature of our central business district. I also envision significant improvements within our local parks which will enhance the day-to-day experience of families within our community.
What makes Lake Forest a special place?
A myriad of factors are responsible for the unique character of Lake Forest. These include the quality of our school system, the beauty of our historic home and businesses, the amazing quality of our open spaces and natural resources, and most importantly the culture of our citizens. It is the character of the residents that defines our community. The respect of our citizens for our unique assets as well as their respect for each other is what makes Lake Forest the special place that it is.
What are some of your favorite activities to do in town?
One of my favorite things is to walk the beach in the early evening on late summer or early fall days. The beach is usually quiet at those times and remarkably beautiful and peaceful. I have also found long walks through the open lands and Middlefork Savanna to provide a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Stopping for a cup of coffee at Gerhard’s is a favorite staple of my Saturday-morning routine.
What are you going to spend your annual salary of $10 on?
This is the most difficult question to answer. Considerations include ice cream at Sweets, a couple of peaches from Amidei Mercatino or a tip for the valet at Sophia Steak.