Aurora salutes retiring Council Member Harold Hatridge

Aurora city leaders on Dec. 11 bid farewell to longtime Council Member Harold Hatridge, who is retiring after 12 years of service.

Hatridge said that after a dozen years on council, he’s accomplished everything he set out to do.

His own list of highlights includes: Regulating the hours that trash pickers can operate in the city; requiring panhandlers to register with city hall and establishing a 100-foot buffer zone to keep them away from intersections; creating (with the city administration) a sidewalk program that lets Aurorans split the cost of sidewalk replacements with the city; and (also with the administration) razing a dilapidated home and adding walking paths and fishing docks to Spring Hill Park, at 1113 E. Pioneer Trail.

Hatridge also said he was pleased to oversee street repairs of every street in his ward.

He will complete his term Dec. 31, after not running for re-election. John Seitz will represent Ward 6 residents starting Jan. 1. Seitz thanked Hatridge “for his leadership, stewardship, friendship, his commitment to Ward 6 and the city he loves.”

Although the veteran council member is retiring, his accomplishments will live on, Seitz said. 

“I’m pretty well satisfied with what we accomplished during my tenure,” Hatridge said. “This is a fantastic place to live. The whole thing’s been a great experience. What you do for yourself dies with you. What you do for others lives on. That’s what keeps my feet on the ground.”

Hatridge said it was his pleasure to serve with “the fine people who are on council,” which works well with the administration to balance growth while not letting it get out of hand.

“I just want to keep Aurora financially sound, safe and beautiful. That’s been my goal the whole time I’ve been a councilman,” he said.

Hatridge has represented Ward 6 since January 2011. He has served as vice chair of council’s Committee of the Whole, chair of the Building and Grounds Committee, vice chair of the Safety, Service and Utilities Committee and a member of the Finance Committee.

Besides representing Ward 6, Hatridge also serves on the city’s recreation advisory board.

Prior to being elected to council, he was a citizen representative on the city’s Architectural Board of Review for more than six years.

Hatridge has been an Aurora resident for more than 40 years. He is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, chairman of the Aurora Veterans Memorial Committee and a charter member of American Legion Post 803.

Aurora Mayor Ann Womer Benjamin recalled being elected to council the same year Hatridge was and serving as a council member with him for two years before she became mayor.

“I saw at the outset what an effective advocate for his constituents he would be,” she said, highlighting the city’s STAR (Sidewalk Transitional Assistance Repair) program.

Womer Benjamin also lauded Hatridge’s service on behalf of veterans and his being the driving force behind the establishment of Aurora’s Veterans Memorial.

“Harold is a dedicated public servant who has been tireless in working to improve our community,” she said.

Reflecting on his own years of service, Ward 2 Council Member Dennis Kovach characterized Hatridge as “a big guy with a gentle heart,” who truly represents his constituents.

“He’s not afraid to step up to the plate. He is one who thinks before he speaks. He does a great job, and people really respect him. I personally am really going to miss him,” Kovach said. “When you sit across from somebody for such a long time, it’s tough to see them leave.”

Ward 1 Council Member Brad Duguay also had nothing but praise for Hatridge.

“Harold is a great member of council,” he said. “His dedication, his caring for the residents is unprecedented. He is so approachable, and when people have concerns, he is all over it. He collaborates well with the rest of council for the betterment of all Aurora, but absolutely the residents of his ward were taken care of by him. We’re going to miss him immensely, I can tell you that.”

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Wendy DiAlesandro is a former Record Publishing Co. reporter and contributing writer for The Portager.