HARRISBURG – His voice heavy with emotion, Harrisburg Mayor Dale Fowler recalled progress made in the city, praised commissioners and thanked residents before resigning Thursday at Harrisburg's city council meeting.
Finance commissioner John McPeek, who had been serving as mayor pro tem, was appointed the city's new mayor.
Fowler resigned because he was elected state senator for the 59th senate district in November's general election. He will be sworn in Jan. 11.
Fowler told council members and those in attendance how he was appointed a city commissioner in 2013, then was appointed mayor in 2014 following the death of then-mayor Ron Crank.
In 2015, he was re-elected mayor.
During that time, he said, he gained a great deal of respect for city commissioners.
"I'd like to say thank you to the councils I've worked with," he said. "What an amazing group of people that work hard to do the right thing."
He also said progress in Harrisburg should be a point of pride for city residents.
"I'll put the city up against any others," he said. "I'm excited about what's been accomplished in the last few years."
He said since the city's 2012 Leap Day tornado, the city has made great strides toward improving its economy.
New business construction has continued since that time and businesses have located inside the city.
"We have companies coming from out of state who never invested in the state of Illinois before," he said.
He also mentioned the construction of the city courtyard and the renovation of the city auditorium – one of his pet projects since joining city council – as additional city improvements.
Finally, he told of attending a prayer breakfast at HerrinFesta Italiana this year, where he noticed a Bible verse printed at the bottom of the program. He said he tore the verse, Ephesians 2:10, off and tucked it into his billfold at the time.
He produced the scrap of paper at Thursday's meeting and read the verse, which maintains that people are created by God to do good works.
"I believe I've been guided to do what I've been doing," Fowler said. "It's just something I've been guided to for the right reasons."
Shortly after his resignation, Public Health and Safety Commissioner Beth Montfort made a motion to appoint McPeek to the mayorship.
Streets and Public Improvements Commissioner Natalie Miller seconded the motion. Public Property Commissioner Richard Harper interrupted.
"It's too bad we can't have two seconds," he said, indicating his support for McPeek.
The council voted unanimously in favor.
Montfort then gave a short synopsis of McPeek's service to the city since he became a commissioner in 2003.
"He brought a lot of knowledge, interest and ideas," Montfort said.
McPeek, after being sworn in, assured those in attendance he intended to continue to guide Harrisburg toward greater progress, much in the same manner Fowler has.
"I have the same vision for the city as Dale," McPeek said. "That's what we want."