Six Lessons I Learned from My Alderman Bride

After three fascinating terms, Rita is retiring from the St. Charles City Council. As her biggest fan and most loyal constituent, I can confirm these last 12 years have been amusing, rewarding, and eye opening. I’ve learned much about local politics, human nature, this wonderful city, and the gifted and beautiful woman I met at the St. Charles High School library 49 years ago.

Your Local Vote Matters. Voters race to the polls for national elections, but Rita won her first seat on the council by just 11 votes. After proving her value and commitment to the Second Ward, the next two election cycles weren’t even close.

Local Matters Matter. The case could be made that decisions made locally impact your life more than those made in Washington. Rita became a voice of reason and held her ground debating issues regarding liquor licenses, video gaming, marijuana, bridges, police stations, zoning, and shopping mall contracts. Close votes were won and lost.

Homework Matters. Every Friday, Rita received a packet of documents to be reviewed before her Monday meetings. I’m not sure about her colleagues on council, but every weekend Rita meticulously reviewed every page and made copious notes. At the meetings, her intelligent and thoughtful questions got to the point without the blah-blah-blah often seen at every level of government. We could use more of what Rita brought to the table in today’s political climate.

Mayors Matter. Rita served under three very different mayors. While checks and balances are built into city government, it’s become clear that the role of mayor requires integrity, skilled leadership, and a love for the city.

Legacy Matters. At her last council meeting (May 1, 2023, 7:00 PM) Rita tells me she is going to briefly honor those who came before her, inspired her, and supported her journey. And she may challenge the new Council to continue fighting the good fight for the city we all love. If you’re local, you’re invited to stop by the council chambers!

Seasons Matter. Thinking back to 2011, I had already witnessed Rita using her gifts of discernment and leadership behind-the-scenes. But her first term in office revealed those skills publicly!  (Although she never really became a “politician.”)  Also that year, I officially became a bestselling author and beganspeaking nationally when my book, 52 Things Kids Need from a Dad, passed 100,000 in sales.

Plus, since Rita was first sworn in, we added three more fabulous daughters-in-law and welcomed eight amazing grandkids! Honestly, I’m not sure what’s next. But I am confident the new season in our lives and careers is going to be fantastic. 
So. Friends. Are you doing your homework? What will be your legacy? Are you making the most of your current season? What skills and gifts might you have that the world needs? And do you even know who your alderman is?
Rita Anne, I’m so proud of you, humbled at what you’ve achieved, and looking ahead with joyful anticipation. I’ll be your arm candy anytime, anyplace.

One Comment

  • Jay, this is Cookie Olson and I had the pleasure of working with your Dad at Harrison as his secretary beginning in 1980 until he retired. He was a sweet soul. I didn’t realize you are an author! Surprise, surprise! I’m going to pick up a couple of your books and read them. They sound so interesting and relatable. I’m looking forward to that!


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