I became an Alderman in April of 1998. At that time, Jim Garvens had already been an Alderman for 7 years. At the time of his passing, Jim had served the City of Brookfield as an Alderman for almost 21 years, substantially longer than anyone on the current Common Council.
Jim was initially appointed as an Alderman for the 5th District in 1991. Former Mayor Kate Bloomberg — who I understand is also a member of this Church — was instrumental in recruiting Jim to serve as an Alderman.
In 1992, the Aldermanic District boundaries shifted — as a result of re-districting following the 1990 census — putting Jim in the 3rd Aldermanic District and he was elected and then re-elected Alderman in that District ever sense — usually without opposition.
Jim brought a wealth of top level business experience to his position as a City of Brookfield Alderman. I believe that kind of experience is particularly valuable in an elected government position and Jim would often draw on his private sector experience in analyzing issues facing the City government. Jim had been a Division Vice President at Globe Union, a Division President at Cambridge Electronics and a Division President at Johnson Controls.
During the almost 21 years Jim served as an Alderman, he worked on a number of committees and boards including the Capitol Improvements Development Committee, the Industrial Screening Committee, the Sewer and Water Board, the Greenway Corridor Committee, the Economic Development Committee, the Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Personnel Committee (now known as the Human Resources and Public Safety Committee), and the Finance Committee. Jim served as Chairman of the Personnel Committee and then Chairman of the Finance Committee — two particularly important committees in the City government.
When I was a 4th District Alderman — and before we re-arranged the configuration of the Council Seating — I sat across a narrow aisle from Jim. He typically did not say a lot during Council meetings but he was paying close attention and he’d normally comment on what had happened as soon as the meeting was over.
I always paid close attention to what Jim said and how he voted. He was very thoughtful and had good reasons for his positions. He was a public servant in the truest, best sense of the term. His concern was solely for the best interests of Brookfield. I believe he truly enjoyed being an Alderman and, after the Elmbrook Rotary breakfast meeting on Fridays at the Venice Club, Jim would often stop in at City Hall and talk to the key department heads with whom he worked.
I would occasionally kid Jim about being the “designated grown-up” on the Council and tell him it was his responsibility to make sure the committees on which he served didn’t do anything weird.
All of us in City government are grateful for Jim’s service to Brookfield. It’s because of people like Jim Garvens that Brookfield is the wonderful community it is today. There are many aspects to Jim’s legacy: husband; father; grandfather; businessman; Rotarian; but his contribution to our City government is the one for which I personally will always be most grateful. He was a colleague, a friend, and a quiet leader. He was fully engaged until the end. My sincere thanks to Jim for all he did for this City and to his family for sharing him with us.
May the good Lord bless and keep you, Jim Garvens.