The Wilmette-Kenilworth Chamber of Commerce has distanced itself from comments recently made by its now former board president, Charles Hutchinson.
Hutchinson, a Wilmette attorney, made a public comment during the Wilmette Village Board meeting Aug. 8 in support of concerts and events at Northwestern University’s Ryan Field, hypothesizing it would bring business to Wilmette.
The board, amid substantial resident criticism of the project, voted to formally object to rezoning that would allow such concerts.
Prior to his comments, Hutchinson identified himself as the president of the local chamber of commerce and said “which is why I am here.” Hutchinson later said he spoke up on behalf of local businesses that felt their voices were unheard.
Chamber officials said the organization never discussed the issue of Ryan Field events, and in a statement wrote, “Mr. Hutchinson’s comments … did not represent the views of the Wilmette/Kenilworth Chamber of Commerce.”
Prior to the chamber’s statement, Hutchinson resigned as chamber board president, but told The Record the decision was not related to the Village Board dust-up. He said the work was “getting too much.”
“It was completely my decision and not the board,” said Hutchinson, who has served on the board for eight years. “… It was a lot of work — a ton. I wouldn’t trade it for the world, but I can’t keep doing it.”
The chamber board’s two vice presidents — Kim Ogasawara, of North Shore Community Bank, and Carrie Tarzon, of @properties — ascend to co-presidents to serve out the remainder of Hutchinson’s term through the end of December 2023.
The chamber’s nominating committee will this fall slate candidates for the 2024 board of directors, according to a chamber press release.
The Wilmette-Kenilworth Chamber of Commerce is led by Executive Director Jennifer Herren, who took over in August 2022, replacing short-term director Cathy Voight. Voight held the job for three months following the resignation of longtime director Julie Yusim.
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