A relatively new city resident — who is nearly 20 years younger than all his colleagues on the Waukegan City Council — is the newest alderman.
Ald. Thomas J. Hayes, 9th Ward, replaces Mayor Ann Taylor for the remainder of the term she vacated ending in 2023, bringing the perspective of the managing partner of a suburban law firm and the father of two young children with a third on the way.
Hayes took his oath of office Monday during a regular council meeting at City Hall after the aldermen unanimously approved Taylor’s recommendation that Hayes succeed her representing the 9th Ward.
Right after he took his seat in the Council Chambers, Hayes cast his first vote to approve committee assignments and his second to hire Elrod Friedman as the city’s new corporation counsel. Both measures passed unanimously.
“I’ve been looking for a way to serve the residents of the 9th Ward and Waukegan,” Hayes said after the meeting. “This is a way I can help improve Waukegan. I’m honored to be able to serve Waukegan.”
Initially receiving 11 applications for the position, Taylor said after the meeting a committee of three, including her, eventually interviewed five before choosing Hayes. He moved into his home three years ago, served on the subdivision’s homeowners association and offers a fresh view, she said.
“He is young and has a different perspective,” the mayor said. “He’s very family and community oriented. He has an interest in the community his children will grow up in. It’s important to have a different perspective to make the council more diverse.”
Taylor said she was impressed with the way Hayes worked at a Chicago law office, spending more than three years as an associate attorney before becoming a partner for more than two years when he started his own firm, Hayes Daniel, in March.
“He’s a very humble man,” she said. “He’s very observant. He has the skills for alderman. He is someone who will not be rattled.”
After graduating from Michigan State in 2003, Hayes earned his law degree from the same university in 2009. He then started his legal career, taking a position with a firm in Evanston.
An avid athlete, Hayes has finished six marathons, five ultramarathons and several adventure races lasting more than 24 hours. He has completed both full and half Ironman triathlons.
While finding no fault with the city’s current local law firm of Daniels, Long and Pinsell, Taylor said she felt Chicago-based Elrod Friedman will give Waukegan a new perspective, bringing experience from other municipalities it represents.
Elrod said the firm already represents Lake County, Deerfield, Highland Park, Lake Bluff and Libertyville.
“I felt we can benefit from a larger firm,” Taylor said. “They are not local, and will look at things with a new set of eyes. Their arc will be more experienced and objective. It’s helpful because they know what other towns are doing.”
Managing partner Steven Elrod said he was honored Waukegan chose his firm to be its new corporation counsel.
“We are confident we will be able to provide high quality and professional service to the city,” he said. “We have a deep bench of highly qualified local government lawyers and are ready to serve the city.”