• David A.F. Sweet

Six Questions with New Lake Forest Caucus President David Hunt

By David A. F. Sweet New Lake Forest Caucus President David Hunt is a private wealth advisor with Bernstein Private Wealth Management. He studied accounting at Miami University of Ohio and has lived in Lake Forest since 2012 with his wife, Joi. His daughter Allegra attends Deer Path Middle School, and his son Jack is in fourth grade at Everett. He notes, “My kids would be upset if I didn’t mention our two dogs, Duchess the husky mix and Bob, our beloved Cava Tzu.”

What have you been focused on since you became president of the Caucus in April?

We have a very busy year and summer ahead! We will be recommending a new mayor, several new city council members, and new members for school board. Choosing candidates for all three elected positions in one year is a heavy lift for our team. These elected positions are in addition to our usual slate of recommendations for mayor-appointed positions to various city boards and commissions. So, we’ve been getting organized and have already begun our work toward identifying the great people in town to put forward for these roles.

"We want people with a heart for service who just want to do great work for our city," says Lake Forest Caucus President David Hunt. We're also starting to focus on community engagement to communicate the mission of the Caucus and listen to feedback from Lake Forest residents about how the Caucus can better serve the community.

What does the role of the president entail?

The Lake Forest Caucus Committee does not have a permanent executive director or staff. Therefore, as president, my primary responsibility is administrative in nature; organizing the work of the Caucus annually. I have a fantastic Executive Committee made up of the other officers of the Caucus along with each ward chair who assists me in this leadership capacity. We organize the annual schedule, plan our annual meetings that are open to the community, spread the word on the good works of the Caucus, and above all identify, recruit, and interview candidates to volunteer for our great city.

What qualities do you look for in choosing candidates for mayor, alderman and other city positions?

We are a non-partisan, non-agenda organization. I think these tenets are also important when looking for volunteers for Lake Forest. We want people with a heart for service who just want to do great work for our city. Certain board positions of course require specific competencies, whether a background in finance, legal, or real estate. Overall, being a good team player, strong previous board governance experience, and demonstrated strong decision-making and leadership skills are very important. When it comes to elected positions like city council and Mayor, certainly prior experience working on other volunteer boards in the city is a huge plus in quickly getting up to speed and understanding how the city works.

How do you get the word out about the Caucus to the 1,000 new residents who have moved to Lake Forest since 2020?

Yes, this is a great opportunity for us. We’ve put in place a number of efforts, including working with the local real estate community and realtors to help us in promoting the good work of the Caucus to new residents. We have also spoken at the Newcomers’ Club of Lake Bluff and Lake Forest and will continue to do this work annually. As you know, many of the new families in town have young children in our schools, so we have also in the past worked with our local schools and parent organizations to ensure as many new residents as possible know about the Caucus. And while we have more work to do, I would say the results are positive as measured by the number of elected members of our Caucus Committee that moved to town in the past five years.

What is the biggest challenge the Caucus faces?

We need to continue working hard to ensure the community understands our process for selecting candidates. There may be a misconception that the Caucus is an “old boys” network, political in nature, or that candidates are selected in a “smoke-filled room” by a chosen few. The reality is much different. We are 43 members strong from elected volunteers across all four wards of Lake Forest. We are men and women, Republicans and Democrats, young and old, and long-time residents alongside newcomers to town. Each of the 43 has one vote on candidates for both recommended elected positions, as well as appointed board and commission positions. While our process is confidential for the sake of the volunteers stepping forward to serve, our process within the Caucus is transparent, honest, and open. Speaking of open, I would like to put in a plug for our Open Call meeting on Sept. 27 at Gorton Community Center which any member of the community can attend if he or she has an interest in learning more or volunteering! We cannot do our great work without the help of the volunteers reading this article.

What excites you most about the future of the Caucus?

Now in our 88th season, I truly believe the Caucus is at the heart of what has allowed Lake Forest to flourish as a community over the years. We have had great city leadership, an amazing hard-working staff, and incredible volunteers identified by the Caucus that have contributed to this success. I’m most excited about simply keeping it going. You’d be amazed at the quality of the volunteers that step forward each year to serve our city. It’s an embarrassment of riches we have in this community. I look forward to not getting in the way and continuing that legacy of success.