Aneeqa Aqeel, Caucus Committee External Communications Chair, had a conversation with Joe Waldeck, Ward 1 Interim Alderman.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your connection to the Lake Forest community.
I was born in Cleveland, Ohio and am one of 8 siblings, 3 of whom were born in Lake Forest. My father worked with Arthur Andersen and had to travel for work a lot. He came out for a project to Skokie, and we ended up moving to Lake Forest in 1957, due to his continued work obligations after surveying neighboring towns. We used to live in a small house on E. Westminster Avenue, opposite the Church of the Holy Spirit. After a few years, my parents purchased a home here and we made long-lasting friendships with the families in town. Back then, Lake Forest used to be a small place, with no stop signals on the roads and almost everything in walking distance. My father was a big believer in giving back and in public service. He instilled that value in us and demonstrated it in his own life, serving as Mayor of Lake Forest from 1978 to 1981.
I attended Marquette University and moved away for work. It was my marriage to Cathy who was born and raised in Lake Forest that brought me back here, where we have lived ever since. It is an honor and privilege to serve this community that we really love.
Please share with us your prior history of volunteerism and any professional experience relevant to your appointment as interim Alderman for Ward 1.
I was appointed as Associate Judge in Lake County in 1995. I served until 2014 and during that time was prohibited by the Code of Judicial Conduct in Illinois from taking any public service positions in the Caucus or City government. After retirement from the bench, I was appointed to the Lake County Bar Foundation Board, and also served on the Judicial Selection and Retention Committee for about 5 years. I then served on the Gorton Center Board of Directors and on the Legal Committee for the City of Lake Forest, for which I also served as Chair. My wife and I have been longtime supporters and active on the Board of A Safe Place, which fulfills a mission very close to our hearts. In May 2022 I was called back to the bench by the Illinois Supreme Court, where I served until year’s end, giving up all other board positions per the Judicial Code of Conduct.
What do you love about Lake Forest and what do you see as the defining strengths of our community?
When you come to Lake Forest, it does something to you. It’s got the great beaches, the facilities, the wonderful houses, but really, it’s got the best people in the world. It’s a community in the true sense of the word, where everyone is involved and there are open forums to share ideas and work for the things we are passionate about, be it historical preservation or moving the city forward while preserving its historical character for our future generations.
The Caucus is a strength of the community and every resident here is a member of the Caucus! The work that the Caucus does to help vet people for our Boards and Commissions is of essential importance. Most people in other communities don’t know who their mayor is or how many aldermen they have. They do not have any means of vetting people for unelected positions.
It is an honor and a privilege to serve what my wife and I believe is one of the greatest communities in the United States, faithfully, honorably, and with great dedication. The future of the City lies with young families who love this community and are willing to dedicate their time to serving it!