Two months to the day of Carl Muell’s retirement as public works director in Brookfield, Village Manager Timothy Wiberg announced he’d chosen Muell’s replacement.
On Aug. 1, Wiberg said he’d selected Vincent Smith, who was raised in Brookfield, to be the village’s newest public works director. Smith’s start date with the village is Aug. 21.
“Obviously he knows the community, and I do think that was one of the things that attracted him to the job,” Wiberg told the Landmark. “It certainly helps when the candidate has ties to the community.”
But the community tie was not the only quality that elevated Smith above the six other candidates interviewed for the job.
Smith has 15 years of municipal public works experience, starting in 2008 when he worked for nine years as a laborer and water operator for the village of Westchester. He then ran his own plumbing business for a time before returning in 2018 to the public sector as a water foreman for Elk Grove Village.
For the past three years, the 41-year-old Smith has served as operations superintendent for the Bensenville Public Works Department.
In that role, he has served as the No. 2 supervisor in the department, filling in for the director when needed and supervising its 23 employees. Smith’s responsibilities touch all aspects of public works, overseeing the utilities, streets and forestry divisions.
“He’s already doing a lot of things that he will be doing as the director,” Wiberg said. “He has experience dealing with capital projects and budgets, but he also has hands-on experience managing staff.”
Smith was also tasked in Bensenville with conducting an inventory of that village’s lead water service lines, landing a $40,000 grant from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency for that work.
“I’ve spoken deeply with the IEPA and believe I have a great grasp on that [lead water service line replacement] mandate,” Smith told the Landmark in a phone interview last week. “I can definitely bring a lot of efficiency to that program.”
Smith was also in charge of Bensenville’s snow and ice removal program, saying he made “drastic improvements” to the program.
“I think I’ll be a good asset for the village of Brookfield in creating efficient snow and ice removal,” Smith said.
Smith, whose starting salary will be $139,558, said he probably would not have considered leaving Bensenville had the opportunity in Brookfield, specifically, not been available.
Growing up on Brookfield’s southeast end, Smith attended Lincoln Elementary School and Lyons Township High School. He later owned a home in Brookfield, serving for a time as a basketball coach at George Washington Middle School. He now lives in LaGrange Highlands.
“Brookfield is part of me,” Smith said. “It’s a place that feels like home and always will.”
Smith worked for Westchester from 2008 to 2017, and he got to know Muell during that time.
“I got to know his leadership style, and I think that if he did well in Brookfield, I think I’ll do well in that role with my skill set,” Smith said.
Muell was highly thought of during his four years at the helm of the Brookfield Public Works Department, improving the culture and streamlining operations, particularly with respect to snow removal and alley maintenance.
Since Muell’s retirement on June 1, public works has been overseen by Superintendent Rocco Barbanente, who was hired as the No. 2 person in the department in 2022.