Michelle Nelson is now officially Flossmoor’s mayor, making her the first woman to assume that role as well as the first new person in that position in more than a decade.
Nelson took the oath of office Monday, May 3, at a village board meeting moved to Homewood-Flossmoor High School. The oath was administered by her father, Judge Michael Svetlic.
“I don’t hug every judge, but I do hug this judge,” Nelson said with a laugh, while thanking her family for their support.
Nelson said after the meeting she was excited about her first evening with the board.
“It feels a little different when you’re up there than down in the audience,” Nelson said. “I’m completely ecstatic and thankful for the opportunity to serve the residents of Flossmoor.”
The change in venue from the usual Village Hall was a welcome one for Nelson.
“When you are doing something as simple as swearing in a police officer or chief of police or somebody from the fire department, Village Hall feels cramped and crowded, and I didn’t want that for our guests or our fellow trustees who were getting sworn in tonight,” she said.
Nelson made a few brief public comments before taking her seat at the dais. She thanked people for joining her May 3 for this moment, noting she is looking forward to working with the board and staff, and eager for some of Flossmoor’s events slated for this summer.
“Flossmoor is a community of doers,” she said. “If you have an idea or a project, you can find a neighbor to help you get it done. I’m so honored to be here in a room full of doers.”
Four trustees also took individual oaths. Among them was newcomer Gary Daggett, whose father administered his oath, and George Lofton, who was elected to a two-year term after being appointed to fill a vacancy. Trustees Joni Bradley-Scott and Brian Driscoll also were sworn in after being reelected to their seats in April.
Outgoing Mayor Paul Braun congratulated all of the winners and said he was honored to be part of the ceremonies. It was his final meeting after three full terms as mayor and six years as a trustee before that.
“What you’re going to see this evening is the way democracy is supposed to act, is supposed to operate — the orderly and peaceful transition of power,” Braun told the crowd before the official start of the meeting.
It was also the final meeting for Trustee Diane Williams, who did not seek reelection for a role she has held since 2005. Nelson and Daggett both acknowledged her service at the meeting.
“I have some pretty big shoes to fill,” Daggett said. “I was talking to Diane, and she said she only wears a size 6, but they feel a lot bigger than that. I want to thank her for all of her service. I look forward to hopefully coming close to the service that she provided the village.”
Following the oaths, Braun turned the meeting over to Nelson.
“It’s your show now,” he said.
Nelson’s first order of business was reading a resolution honoring Braun for his years of service, achievements, “optimism and goodwill” as mayor, and loyalty to Flossmoor. Nelson also gifted Braun three pairs of her favorite socks after he said he might take up running again in retirement. She said a pollinator garden is soon to be planted at Leavitt Park in Braun’s honor.
“Thanks to each and every one of you for the support you’ve given my family over the years,” Braun told the crowd.
The meeting also featured a short program that began with Kalind Haynes, who performed “The Star-Spangled Banner” as well as “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” Haynes said he has known Nelson for a few years and was happy to be part of the occasion.
“It was awesome,” he said. “It was a great feeling. I’m honored, actually.”
His renditions were followed by an invocation from the Rev. Andrea Denney, who has known Nelson and her family for 17 years. Denney said she was proud to be involved with the swearing in of Flossmoor’s first female mayor.
“I would be thrilled with that had either candidate won,” Denney said. “That it is my friend makes it special.”
Finally, Nelson’s daughter Kate and friend Dean Barrow performed “America the Beautiful” on violins. Kate said it was wonderful to be a part of the festivities.
“It was really fun,” she said. “I was so glad to be able to perform for my mother’s swearing in. I think she’s done a great job, and I’m really proud of her.”
No one officially approached the microphone for public comments during the board meeting, but when Nelson asked if anyone would like to, after a short pause, one man yelled “congratulations” from his seat to the applause of the crowd.
Photos by Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle.