Lake Forest City Manager Retires After 28 Years With The Suburb

Bernie Tafoya
January 15, 2019 - 10:54 am

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- The city manager of Lake Forest is looking back after deciding to call it a career after more than 28 years with the North Shore suburb and nearly 40 years in the profession of city management.  

Bob Kiely, 62, said anyone going into the city or village management profession must have a lot of patience.

"You learn from the bad times as well as the good," he said.

Kiely has been involved in running local governments for 38 years. 

He said his biggest accomplishments include the quality of the organization he has put together as well as working on public-private partnerships.

One of the times things didn’t quite go as well as planned was the time he thought Lake Forest residents would welcome Costco to their community. They did not and the store opened in neighboring Mettawa.

About the loss of Costco, Kiely laughs as he said, "To have a million dollars a year in sales tax revenue would have been awful nice thing and an easy way to balance the budget."

Bob Kiely said he’s going to continue to do some teaching in the Northwestern University graduate program as well as travel more. 

One thing he will not be doing is worrying about his phone ringing when someone has a complaint.

"This weekend, when it started snowing, it was like…you know in retirement…I won’t have to worry about this," he laughs.

A quality Kiely said good city managers need is "patience." 

"You always have to keep your eye on the ball and recognize you’re there to assist the majority and not a vocal few," he said.

Kiely said social media has made the job of city manager more difficult. As an example, he said, "Somebody posts something out there and then, immediately, everybody assumes it’s factually correct and that’s not always the case and so you find yourself spending a lot of time just correcting misinformation."

Kiely calls city management a "very noble profession" in which people go into it "trying to improve people's lives."

His last day is Jan. 30. His successor, Jason Wicha, starts two days before that. Wicha is currently the assistant village manager in Skokie.