SYCAMORE – After a decade in elected office, Sycamore Mayor Curt Lang announced Monday he won't seek re-election in the April 2021 Consolidated Election.
"I have had the privilege of serving on the City Council and Mayor for 10 years, and during that time I've had the opportunity to meet and work with so many dedicated people," Lang said. "Sycamore has been our home since 1976. Karen and I raised our children here, two of our children own local businesses. I can truly say it has changed my life and offered us so much more in Sycamore."
Lang's announcement means the two largest cities in the county – DeKalb and Sycamore – will have new leaders after the April election. DeKalb Mayor Jerry Smith on Thursday also announced he would not seek a second term. DeKalb Ward 1 Alderman, Carolyn Morris, is the first to come forward to announce her candidacy for DeKalb mayor, though the candidate filing window for both mayoral campaigns has not yet opened.
Lang – who was elected mayor in 2017 following six years as Ward 1 Alderman for the City of Sycamore after Mayor Ken Mundy did not seek re-election after three terms in office – said he and wife, Karen, will continue to call Sycamore their home.
"With that said, and I didn't cry, I'm pretty happy," Lang said, addressing the city council Monday via Zoom. "I'm grateful for the opportunity to serve."
Like many these days, Lang said the COVID-19 pandemic – and all its impacts, including financial constraints on Sycamore residents, loss of jobs, of life – has worn him down and led, in part, to his decision to not seek a second term.
"I think more than anything, since March, this pandemic has really taken a toll on my energy," Lang said. "I’m the kind of person that really thinks about the people, the citizens, the jobs that aren't here, the people that aren’t going to make it. And even though it's not me personally, I kind of take it personally since it's on my watch. And I think my energy has been expended, so to speak. I'm going to encourage the young people to take over."
After Lang's announcement, City Manager Brian Gregory also thanked Lang for his leadership.
"Thank you for your service these past 10 years," Gregory said. "Your leadership has been very helpful as we work through many different issues. I appreciate it."
Lang said he knows the city's got a lot to do between now and April. In an interview after the meeting, Lang cited economic development as a key component during his administration, including grocer Meijer, new restaurants and expansions for The Suter Company, IDEAL Industries and Ignatius Press.
"We've been very blessed to have the economic engine that we have in our little village," he said.
Lang said he still has his sights set on the Sycamore Grove, Tribute to Veterans project, a local living celebration for veterans which will come to fruition before the snow falls, with trees planted and finalized by Veterans Day, he said. Funded through private donations, the grove will allow for the family of a veteran to fund and purchase a tree which will be planted in their honor.
As far as the future, Lang, a retired dentist, said he and his family plan to "kind of enjoy things" in Sycamore and at their homes in Florida and Canada. He and Karen moved to Sycamore "right out of dental school," in 1976, and now his two daughters – Jessica Swedberg of Swedberg Electric and Chelsea McGhee of Chelsea McGhee Studios – operate businesses.
"We're blessed the people trusted us and we grew," he said. "We made a lot of friends."
Lang said he'd encourage the future Mayor of Sycamore to employ his people-first strategy.
"The pandemic is sort of out of management control, it's a federal and state thing," Lang said. "But I think the thing I've done that I'm proud of is I've visited most of the businesses and industry people personally in the community, so I know their faces. They know my face, and I think there's a lot to say about government that cares enough to come to my door."
He said his decade of elected office in Sycamore wouldn't be what it was without the people.
"I am so grateful to work with people who are good people, and that they are great citizens of our town," Lang said. "Our town has sort of an attitude where we care about each other and it's been really great to be a part of that."