Klinkhamer is gateway to U.S. Rep. Foster

Published: Wednesday, May 13, 2009 10:34 p.m. CDT
Caption
Rob Winner – rwinner@kcchronicle.com Sue Klinkhamer, district director at Congressman Bill Foster's Batavia office, works on the computer on Wednesday morning.

Former St. Charles mayor Sue Klinkhamer certainly landed on her feet.

She now is the district director for U.S. Representative Bill Foster, D-Batavia, which means she screens those who want to talk to or request government money from Foster. Essentially, she's his gatekeeper.

And there are plenty out there who want to get a cut of the billions in federal stimulus money that is being doled out.

Some might think Sue Klinkhamer – who was ousted as mayor of St. Charles in 2005 by Don DeWitte – would have her foot on the throats of old foes.

Not so, Klinkhamer said.

Everybody gets a fair shake with her, she said, and she certainly would do nothing to prevent her hometown or any other town from getting stimulus money.

Klinkhamer said losing the city's mayoral race four years ago was a loss that she took personally, but that she has come to terms with no longer being the mayor of St. Charles.

An avid sport's fan, Klinkhamer likened her being ousted as mayor to Tom Seaver being traded from the New York Mets.

"Seaver said 'it was the worse day of my life and the best day of my life,' " Klinkhamer said. "Losing hurts more than winning feels good. It turns out that losing the last election was the best thing that ever happened to me."

Months after losing the election, she took a job as a lobbyist for the city of Chicago and commuted between her home in St. Charles and Washington D.C. for about 2 1/2 years.

She got the lobbyist job after applying to a want ad online in Roll Call, Capitol Hill's newspaper. She worked at convincing federal lawmakers that the 2016 Olympic Games ought to be in the Windy City.

About a year ago, she was hired as the director of the 14th Congressional District by Foster. She is Foster's eyes and ears in the district while he is in Washington D.C. 

Klinkhamer meets regularly with the mayors, village presidents, managers and administrators from around the district who want federal money for social programs and capital projects such as new roads and new bridges.

Batavia Mayor Jeff Schielke said Klinkhamer is "an old friend, widely respected and highly regarded."

"She and I go way back," Schielke said.

Schielke is the chairman of the Council of Mayors for the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning. He said Klinkhamer used to call him up constantly looking for money for the widening of the intersection of Main Street and Randall Road in St. Charles.

He said it was a multimillion dollar project and the cost kept on escalating. He helped manage the federal funds for the project.

"I'd answer the phone [when Klinkhamer called] and say, 'You need more money?" Schielke said.

Now the roles are reversed as Schielke might be going to Klinkhamer looking for stimulus and transportation money for Batavia.

"She does a good job," Schielke said. "She knows all the players in the game. She knows the straight shooters [from] the guy that's trying to pull a fast one."

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