Jim Gitz is a Freeport resident and local attorney in private practice. He is a former Mayor of Freeport (1997 – 2005),
and is also a municipal professional having also served as City Attorney in Urbana and a city administrator in Wisconsin.
Jim is a 1986 graduate of Northwestern University Law School and worked in several Chicago law firms before returning to
the Freeport area to practice law.
As a young attorney at Rudnick & Wolf, Jim successfully represented Freeport residents in a suit against the City of
Freeport for sanitary and storm sewer improvements before the Illinois Pollution Control Board in 1987. The Board’s final
order adopted a compliance plan that required the City to make regular and systematic improvements to the City’s sanitary
sewer system in the Hunt, Homer and east side areas of Freeport to alleviate chronic problems of back-up, infiltration and
The Pollution Board decision stimulated Jim’s interest in Freeport city government and his desire to see Freeport grow and
progress. It also whetted his desire to see the law used to help people and to solve problems. As Jim said at the time, “It was
great to see the law used to solve sewer problems that plagued people’s lives and homes for years. No one thought we
could win – that we could fight City Hall. We proved them wrong.”
In 1989, Jim directed the successful Citizens Party campaign to elect Dick Weis and six new candidates to the Mayor’s office
and City Council. Jim later served as outside counsel to the City of Freeport on the Burgess Battery environmental clean-up
and represented several other municipal entities as special counsel, including the Northern Illinois Library System. Jim later
joined the law firm of Ancel, Glink, Diamond, Cope & Bush, a prominent municipal law firm in government law circles, as a
litigator and municipal attorney.
In 1997, Jim was elected mayor of Freeport in his own right, winning both the Citizens Party Primary and the April General
Election. Jim was reelected mayor in 2001. Jim was an active mayor who believed in Freeport’s potential and sought to
make the city a better place in which to live and work. His accomplishments are set forth in a separate posting on this web
site. In addition, Jim was on the Board of Directors of the Illinois Municipal League.(2001-2005) and a member of the
National USEPA Local Government Advisory Council (USLGAC from 2003-2009).
After leaving the mayor’s office in 2005, Jim resumed his professional career as City Attorney in Urbana and later as a city
administrator in Prairie du Chien, WI.
In addition to his Juris Doctorate degree from Northwestern, Jim has a Baccalaureate degree in Economics from the
University of Illinois at Springfield. Jim transferred to the U of I from Bradley University, where he completed his first three
years of undergraduate work, and was on the varsity debate team and active in campus politics.
Jim graduated from Freeport High School and proudly embraces his heritage as a Freeport Pretzel. He fondly remembers
Nate Johnson, the late football coach as his P. E. instructor, Homeroom teacher, and mentor in high school days. Says Jim
of those days, “I wasn’t big enough or fast enough to be a good football player, but I always believed in giving your best. We
farm boys believe that hard work can solve most problems, but it never made up for size, speed and bulk!”
computers “because they have an amazing capacity to help you find and learn new things. Besides, I have to keep up with
Jim is a fifth generation Freeport native. He was born
and raised on a farm south of Freeport.
Jim’s great, great grandfather, John, settled in
Florence Township in 1853 and was a prominent area farmer.
John is buried with his wife, Mary, in the City Cemetery.
Jim’s father, Cleatus, grand father, Charles, and great
grandfather, John Jr., were all well-known Florence Township
farmers as well.
Jim is the oldest son of the late Cleatus and late Eva Mae Gitz Otto. His father died in 1961 in a farm accident. Eva Mae was
a Registered Nurse at St. Francis Hospital and later, at St. Clair Hospital in Monroe. Jim has two younger brothers, Wally
Gitz and Mark Otto. Jim admires his mother, Eva Mae, for her dedication to taking care of people. “When we went to the
grocery store, it seemed like my mother knew every woman there. She was an OB nurse so she helped deliver a lot of
babies. She always had a kind heart and a ready smile.”
Jim is the Citizens Party candidate for mayor and is asking for your vote in the election on Tuesday, April 9th, 2013.
Jim is divorced, and the father of two children, Jeffrey,13, and
Elizabeth, 6. Jim refers to them as the “two most important
people in my life and a key reason why the future of this
community is so important to me.” He spends almost every
weekend with Jeffrey and Elizabeth and they are all frequent
visitors to Krape Park and area events. Jim is still in search of
the perfect baked macaroni and cheese recipe since it is the
kids’ favorite and he hates boxed food.
Jim has a wide range of interests that span running, bicycling,
motorcycles, old cars, reading, cooking and theatre. His
musical tastes range from classic country music to Beethoven;
he also is a Crosby, Stills and Nash fan. He often listens to
NPR and loves documentary programs on history, especially
the Great Depression and WW II. Jim is also interested in
In 1978, Jim was elected State Senator from the old 35th District which encompassed all of Northwest Illinois and parts of
Rockford. He was the youngest Senator in the Illinois General Assembly, having just turned 30. Jim served on the Senate
Appropriations, Finance, Local Government, and Agriculture, Energy & Conservation Committees. His focus was on
bringing jobs, opportunity, and state resources to Northwest Illinois. He received several awards for his legislative record,
including an award from the Illinois Taxpayers' Federation.