Brennan takes helm in Kenilworth
Kenilworth village manager Patrick Brennan talks with Kenilworth Police Officer Lt. David Miller about how technology has changed.| Michelle LaVigne~Sun-Times Media
NEW ON THE JOB
WHO: Patrick Brennan
POSITION: Kenilworth village manager
EXPERIENCE: Former deputy city manager for Highland Park
Updated: October 1, 2012 6:22AM
KENILWORTH — Patrick Brennan has pounded the beat as a police officer. He’s also handled the daily business of a city of thousands. He knows community service from street level on up. Now he hopes to use those 24 disparate years of experience to serve Kenilworth as its new village manager.
Village President Fred Steingraber announced last week that the village board chose Brennan from a field of almost 70 candidates. He succeeds Brad Burke, who left Kenilworth after six years to become Lincolnshire’s village manager.
Brennan, whose first day on the job was Aug. 21, comes to his new position from an 11-year career in Highland Park, where he started as assistant to the city manager and took on progressively larger roles before becoming deputy city manager. He left the city in January after a brief stint as acting city manager.
Brennan, 45, started his career in the Middletown, Ohio Police Department. The Pennsylvania native joined the department in part to pay for college (he is a graduate of the University of Dayton), but he stayed with the department and rose through the ranks, serving as a detective and a K-9 officer, and attaining the rank of sergeant.
While still in Middletown, Brennan earned his master’s degree in public administration.
“Really, it was a desire to serve the community in a broader role,” he said. “The hands-on work you do as a police officer is great, but in community management you get to look at the world more holistically.”
He moved to Illinois after being recruited to join Highland Park’s administration. He and his wife Jeanne live in Evanston, and his daughter Megan is a university student in Ohio.
Although Kenilworth is much smaller than Highland Park – roughly 2,500 residents living in less than a square mile, compared to a 12.4-square-mile city of more than 33,000 – Brennan’s administrative plate is already full.
For one thing, he arrived as Kenilworth’s staff was deep in budget planning for next year, and just as the budget cycle was moving from a fiscal to a calendar year. He plans to have the 2013 budget ready for approval in November, he said.
He will also be tackling the potentially huge task of assessing and improving the village’s aging storm and sanitary sewer systems, a project that was already on the village board’s radar before Brennan arrived.
Sewer infrastructure needs are significant, Brennan said: “Much of the system has only been replaced or improved as individual repairs were made. I understand there’s pipe in the ground that is extremely old.”
Although the cost could be equally significant, Brennan said one of his challenges will be to look for creative financing options, such as working with other communities to win state or federal grant money for storm water management. North Shore municipalities like Highland Park, Lake Forest and Highwood have done so, he said.
Brennan’s focus on finding such deals wasn’t lost on village trustees who set out to find Burke’s successor. In making the announcement, Steingraber praised Brennan’s networking experience and his ability to work with other communities on joint projects.
“Our residents will greatly appreciate his strong customer service orientation and communication skills,” Steingrabber said.
Brennan said wearing as many hats as he did during his Highland Park career is an advantage as he takes on Kenilworth’s challenges.
“It’s one of the great things about a community this size. I get to stay hands-on, and I like that.”