By Jeff Holt
Published April 15, 2021 in The Burg
At press time, Peter Schwartzman had just been elected as the Galesburg Mayor. He was able to edge out former mayor John Pritchard and a solid challenger in Kristine Crow. Nearly everyone knew that Schwartzman has been a Knox College Environmental Studies Professor. But for the local readers, we at The Burg wanted you to get to know our newly-elected mayor even better.
Q: What would you like to say to the Galesburg residents after being elected as Mayor of Galesburg? A: Thank you for your support. I walked door-to-door for thirty-eight straight days. I met many wonderful people. Hopefully I knocked on yours. I am so grateful to be your mayor. I hope to provide a spark and catalyst for positive change. I will always be accessible to you and will always listen to your input. Q: Can you talk about what the next couple of weeks and months look like for you? A: The next few weeks serve as a transition. I take on my new responsibilities on May 3rd. I am making initial contacts with various stakeholders and reaffirming my commitment to represent all Galesburg's residents and organizations to the best of my ability. I am vetting recommendations for a replacement for my 5th Ward City Council position. I am also taking some rest before I plunge into this new, inspiring position, full of possibilities! Q: You've taught at Knox College for several years. How has that been for you and what do you feel Knox College adds to the town of Galesburg? A: Knox College has been my employer since 1998 when they took a risk and hired a young perhaps overzealous professor who had little teaching experience at the collegiate level. Knox College has provided me almost unlimited opportunities to teach a variety of subjects and engage in critical, creative and exploratory thinking. I am very thankful to them. I think Knox College (and Carl Sandburg College as well) adds immeasurably to the City of Galesburg. It brings in several hundred new students a year to our community. These diverse students from all over the US and the world share their culture, skills and ambitions with the community (though I am very interested in finding new, more expansive ways to do this). They also bring substantial economic resources with them (though, contrary to some public opinion, the vast majority of Knox students do not come from wealthy backgrounds). Q: I'm sure that you know former Knox alum Bob Sheehan who was also a previous Mayor of Galesburg. Did you consult with him early on or talk to him after officially winning? A: I knew Bob Sheehan but we were only casual acquaintances. I have not spoken to (or heard from) him for at least five years. Q: Who is one person (family or non family) that you have always looked up to and why? A: I admire Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He was killed the year I was born and I have always felt like I have a little of him in me. He stood up for what is right and just. He sacrificed a lot to do this (ultimately his life). I admire his dedication to improving the human condition. I aim to do this in my own life as well. Q: You used to write for The Zephyr newspaper. How was that for you and do you have any favorite stories you'd like to share about the late Norm Winnick)? A: Norm is a Galesburg hero as far as I am concerned. I absolutely loved The Zephyr and thought that Norm put so much of his love and energy into it. Norm instilled confidence in me as a writer and gave me a lot of latitude regarding what topics I was able to focus on. It was always fun playing tennis with Norm too. He was always a good sport and added a friendly air to an otherwise competitive endeavor. Q: Is there anything else you would like to add? A: I am glad The Burg is a paper in our city. I hope it succeeds. We need more independent media sources. I loved The Zephyr and was very sad to see it go away. I hope The Burg attempts to give voice to the variety of political, social, religious and cultural backgrounds that exist in our blessed community. Additionally, I want to thank the wonderful essential workers we have in our City as well. We literally have hundreds of doctors, nurses, police officers, fire fighters, bus drivers, janitors, store clerks, etc., in our community. They have persevered during a very difficult time and I admire every last one of them for doing their job and making our lives better! Q: Any extra details about yourself that you would like to include (family, education, work experience, etc.)? A: Both of my grandfathers were war veterans and I am very proud of their service in our military. I know Galesburg has been home to many such heroes in the past and we have many veterans living in our community. It is imperative that we show them the love and admiration they deserve and ensure they lead healthy and secure lives in our City.