Alumnus elected chairman of Lake County Board

Aaron Lawlor ’04 always has been interested in public service, and he got an early start in government while he was a student at Lake Forest College.

A politics and communication double major, Lawlor was a first-year student when in 2000 he volunteered for Greg Kazarian’s campaign for an Illinois Senate seat. His six-year stint on the board of the Cook Memorial Public Library District started when he was a senior at Lake Forest.

Now, he is the newly elected chairman of the Lake County Board, a position he has held for about a week.

“I just really enjoyed politics,” said Lawlor, who also worked for U.S. Senator Mark Kirk for seven years. “I came to the realization that being in politics, you’re marketing a person and a cause instead of a business where you’re marketing a service or a product.”

Lawlor was nominated for the post by fellow board member and Professor of Biology Ann Maine. They did not know each other while he was a student here, but some of his friends were in Maine’s classes. In fact, the two became acquainted through their various political involvements, and probably through Kirk, Maine said.

“We’ve worked together almost four years on the board. We communicate really well and I think we look at issues in a very similar manner,” Maine said of why she supported Lawlor for the seat. “He researches issues really well. He has good interactions with people. I like the way he tries to tackle problems.” 

Maine also is the reason Lawlor was appointed to the board in the first place in 2009. When a position opened, she gave him a call, Lawlor said.

Lawlor’s attributes his recent appointment in part to his ability to listen. He says he is proud of Lake County for its balanced budget and Triple A bond rating, and plans to keep the county fiscally responsible. His pursuit of the chairmanship, he says, was never about fixing a broken system but about making it even better.

“The biggest difference in the week I’ve been the board chairman is you have to manage people effectively,” he said. “You have to take the twenty-one different board members and build consensus and keep forward progress on whatever the issue is.”

“This is a new challenge, and the time was right.”