A new era began Monday night in North Riverside as a new mayor and three new village trustees took office.
Before an overflow standing-room-only crowd, Hubert Hermanek Jr. was sworn in as mayor and quickly set a new tone by appointing George Georgopoulos, a one-time mayoral opponent, to the village’s Plan Commission.
Hermanek, a lawyer who served one term as village trustee, said that he wants to unify the village after a contentious last two years and a bitter mayoral campaign.
“It’s my intent to unite the factions and have more productive board meetings with less acrimony,” Hermanek said. “I’ve made overtures to both people in the TAP Party and Mr. Georgopoulos, and we’re going to all work together.”
Also sworn in were three new village board members, Jason Bianco, Matthew Decosola and Joseph Mengoni; returning board member, Vera Wilt; and a new village clerk, Kathy Ranieri.
Leaving office and taking their final bows were longtime VIP Party stalwarts, Mayor Kenneth Krochmal and veteran Trustee Thomas Corgiat.
Hermanek appointed Bianco, a former Plan Commission member, to fill out the last two years of Rocco DeSantis’ term on the village board. Bianco, 42, works as trader at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. DeSantis resigned as trustee in April.
The new board members also emphasized moving beyond the divisions of the past.
“I’m excited to get ready to get down to work,” Mengoni said. “People need to see that we’re a different group of people, and we all have the same goal, and that goal is to reunite the village and move the village forward.”
Hermanek made three new appointments to the Plan Commission. In addition to Georgopoulos, Hermanek appointed John Gardiner and Dave Witken to three-year terms. Hermanek also reappointed Dave Tomalis and Tim Kutt to new three-year terms and Tomalis was appointed the chairman the commission.
Georgopoulos, whose mayoral bid was marred by a petition snafu and then a late invalid filing as a write-in, said that he expects good things from Hermanek and the new board members.
“The community needs a leader and not a person that’s constantly going to fight and argue,” Georgopoulos said. “I know they are going to do a good job. I know they’re good people.”
Krochmal is retiring after one term as mayor and 14 years as a village board member. In his goodbye speech Krochmal said that he’s looking forward to his retirement.
“I’ll be chasing grandkids,” Krochmal said.
Krochmal pointedly did not thank DeSantis or H. Bob Demopoulos who were elected to village board two years ago, and who have been persistent and vocal critics of Krochmal and the VIP Party.
Demopoulos brushed off the snub.
“I’m just happy that I had the opportunity to work with Mayor Krochmal, and I don’t need a pat on the back,” Demopoulos said.
Despite being the only member of the village board who is not a VIP Party member, Demopoulos said he is looking forward to working with Hermanek and the new village board.
“I like the dynamic,” Demopoulos said. “It’s a younger, fresher look, with a new outlook on the village with new ideas. I have a lot of confidence with Mayor Hermanek. I think he’s going to do a good job. I think I’ll work well together with him.”