Kane County Remembers Jesse Vazquez, 1963-2015
The outpouring of affection and respect for Kane County Board member Jesse Vazquez was evident at Tuesday’s Kane County Board meeting, as well as in the mainstream media and social media sites, following Tuesday morning’s news of his death.
Unconfirmed reports from County Board members were that the 51-year-old board member and civic leader died of a heart attack sometime last night.
During Tuesday’s County Board meeting, officials twice shared a moment of silence in honor of the District 8 board member. After the meeting, a few shared their thoughts.
Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen said he received the news at around 6:10 a.m. Tuesday morning in an email from Montgomery Village Board President Matt Brolley.
“We are mourning Jesse’s loss,” Lauzen said. “It is interesting in local government how close we become. Even when we have legitimate disagreements, it’s respectful. There is an affection in local government because you’re dealing with stuff that really matters. Among us, there’s a closeness, and I can tell you it’s not evident in the General Assembly. I am so very sorry for the Vazquez family’s loss.”
Lauzen said Vazquez represented “the spirit that a Marine goes after every day,” and while the two did not always agree politically, they shared a passion for public service.
“It was last week after one of these meetings, Jesse stopped by the office,” he said. “He looked great. He had that tie on and was Marine-Corps sharp. He was clear, and we talked about (how) every day you get a fresh start on relationships. I’m glad that one of our final comments was about our friendship and how valuable our friendship was to both of us.”
The news hit very close to home for Theresa Barreiro, the District 2 Kane County board member from Aurora.
“He was a great family friend,” she said, adding, “It’s hard to say ‘was.’ It’s very strange. We go way back. My husband was in his wedding; our children are friends. It’s just very sad. If you needed him to do anything, he was there. It was just a shock.
“I found out this morning,” she said. “I got texts from colleagues in Aurora we all know, but I usually don’t look at texts prior to a board meeting. Finally, (I noticed a text from) a friend of mine in the Sheriff’s Office, and he told me, and that was when I said, ‘Oh, my God.’ ”
During the board meeting, Thomas (T.R.) Smith led a military salute facing the seat left vacant by his fellow veteran.
“Jesse was one of the leaders on the County Board,” he said after the meeting. “He epitomized what independence was all about. People looked to him for direction.
“He was a very forceful individual. He was also a heck of a competitor. I played golf with Jesse and Ron Ford at several outings, and (Jesse) was serious about his golf game. As a veteran, we had a lot in common.”
Smith said Vazquez also had a fun side.
“During the board meetings, there’s a lot of communication between board members who sit next to each other. And Jesse would always lean over and whisper in my ear, trying to make me laugh. Jesse had a great sense of humor. I’m definitely going to miss him.”
County Board member and former, longtime Kane County Forest Preserve District President John Hoscheit said, “Jesse was a good friend.”
“While he served as Forest Preserve finance chairman, he was a big supporter of our referendums and land-acquisition programs, and always someone we could count on if it was an issue involving the need for consensus,” he said. “Outside of the board, he was very productive and close friends with a lot of the people on the board.
“He will be missed.”
- Kane County Chronicle: County board mourns loss of Vazquez
- Daily Herald: Kane County board member Jesse Vazquez Dies Unexpectedly
- Beacon News: Kane County Board member Jesse Vazquez Dies
- Kane County Connects: Kane County Board Member Jesse Vazquez Dies Suddenly at Age 51