Longtime Highland Park resident appointed to City Council; ‘Let us embrace the opportunities ahead’

Longtime Highland Park resident appointed to City Council; ‘Let us embrace the opportunities ahead’

Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering appointed longtime Highland Park resident Barisa Bruckman Monday to a vacant seat on the City Council.

The position was made available by the resignation of Jeff Hoobler at the end of April. Hoobler, who was elected to the council in April 2023, resigned after it came to light that elected officials are ineligible to hold liquor licenses. Hoobler, as co-owner of Ravinia Brewing Company, held a liquor license that was most recently renewed in the winter of 2023.

According to Illinois municipal code, a mayor must appoint a resident to fill a gap on the city council within 60 days of the vacancy. Bruckman will serve on the council until a council member is elected during the April 2025 general municipal election.

“As we embark on this journey together, I am inspired by the spirit of positive progress that defines our community,” Bruckman said following her appointment. “Together, let us embrace the opportunities ahead, working collaboratively to enhance the quality of life for all those who call Highland Park home.”

Bruckman was selected from a group of 19 candidates, following interviews with the mayor and City Council, Rotering said during Monday’s meeting. She currently serves on the city’s Plan and Design Commission, to which she was appointed in November 2021.

“We are tremendously appreciative of your willingness to serve the community in this capacity,” the mayor said.

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Councilmember Annette Lidawer, who was absent from the meeting, offered her support for Bruckman’s appointment as council liaison to the Planning and Design Commission, after witnessing the new councilmember’s work on the commission. Rotering read a statement from Lidawer during Monday’s meeting.

“I’ve witnessed Barisa’s thorough preparation and participation and one of the city’s most crucial commissions,” Lidawer said. “I believe the depth of her work experience will suit her candidacy and tenure well. I do observe that in losing Councilmember Hoobler, the city lost a champion for economic and business development. This is significant and I hope we continue to focus on economic development as a priority as a pillar.”

Lidawer was one of three council members who voted to amend Highland Park’s liquor code, which prohibits licenses from being issued to councilmembers and law enforcement, in order to keep Hoobler on the council. The amendment, however, failed due to a tie vote.

Bruckman began her career working for Barack Obama when the former president was just a senator-elect from Illinois. She continued to work for Obama when he was elected president in 2008.

The new councilmember also worked in the city of Chicago’s Treasurer’s Office. Bruckman, who grew up in Highland Park and moved back six years ago with her young family, also holds a master’s in public policy and public administration from Northwestern University.

Bruckman said she pursued the appointment because she wanted to add a younger voice to the City Council.

“Highland Park is an incredible suburb. We continue to do great work for young families who continue to move here, as well as to continue to make it vibrant and a place where people want to be,” Bruckman said.

chilles@chicagotribune.com