City Council, School Board Elections Contain Referendum
On Past Personnel Decisions
There will be two people, City Manager Tim Gleason and former Decatur Supt. of Schools Lisa Taylor, who are not on the ballot but will have impact in three local races on Election Day, April 4th -- the races for mayor, three city council seats and four school board positions.
The election of mayor and three city council members has a personnel matter hanging around -- the firing of Police Chief Brad Sweeney by City Manager Tim Gleason. The firing drew quite-a-bit of controversy, including legal action, and will certainly be included in campaign speeches and “letters to the editor” in the weeks ahead.
In fact, retired Decatur Police Chief Mark Barthelemy, in his letter to the editor in the "Letters" section of this edition wrote, in part: “One major issue has stirred the mass anger and outrage of Decatur citizens. All council members except William Faber failed to act upon it. That, of course, was the city manager’s dismissal of former police Chief Brad Sweeney. Apparently the city manager was upset that Sweeney objected to his personal use of police department resources and objected to his repeated requests for tax increases.”
Barthelemy’s comment, in support of mayoral challenger John Phillips, is sure to be repeated in a lot of comments from supporters of Phillips. That comment, along with recent tax and fee increases will be focused on the way to defeat Mayor Julie Moore Wolfe as the campaign moves towards April 4th.
Of course, should Phillips become mayor, as I wrote last week, he will have no power to fire the city manager on his own, but will need the votes of at least three council members to cause that to happen.
Present city councilmen Jerry Dawson and Chris Funk are not running so there will be at least two new faces on the council, and possibly four, should challenger Phillips beat Moore Wolfe and incumbent Patrick McDaniel does not finish in the top three in the balloting for the council seats.
Running for the three city council seats up for election, in addition to McDaniel, are Chris Riley, Chuck Kuhle, David Horn, Marty Watkins and Andrew Apel.
Make no mistake about it...the upcoming election for those four seats will not only be about the job that Moore Wolfe and McDaniel are doing, but it will also be about the job City Manager Gleason has done and is doing.
About The School Board Election…And Lisa Taylor
The decision of the Decatur School Board last year not to renew the contract of popular Supt. of Schools Lisa Taylor will also be a factor in the race to fill 4 seats in the April 4th election.
I’ve never seen such an uproar by citizens to keep someone in a local position.
Two of the board members, Alida Graham and B. A. Buttz, who stood firm against renewing Taylor’s contract, are running for re-election and their stand against Taylor will be a factor in the election.
The other two board members with seats expiring, Fred Spannaus and T. J. Jackson are not running for re-election. Spannaus supported Taylor and Jackson did not in the contract renewal issue.
The five other candidates in the school board race are Beth Creighton, Courtney Carson, Al Scheider. Kendall Briscoe and Beth Nolan.
Last week, Briscoe, Creighton and Nolan announced that they would be running as a slate using the acronym PLUS as their mantra which stands for Parents in Leadership for Us.
“This is an opportunity for the community to make real change for DPS. Electing all of us will provide an opportunity to get the school board back on track and focusing on the real issues at the district,” said Briscoe.
I always have mixed feelings about candidates running as a “slate” because it appears they are trying to “take over” the board or council seats they are seeking.
If everyone on the slate wins, they will essentially gain control of the board regardless of who wins the fourth seat due to the composition of the three board members who are not up for re-election.
Another factor in the school board race is whether or not a new superintendent is hired by the board before the election.
The majority of people I have talked with feels the board should wait until the election is over before making that decision.
As it is with the mayoral and city council election, personnel decisions of the past will be among the reasons voters will make their choices for or against the direction of the board of education.
• SINCE I introduced the subject of the former superintendent, CONGRATULATIONS are in order for Lisa Taylor, who was recently promoted to superintendent of the Heyworth School District.
After leaving Decatur, because her contract was not renewed, Taylor took a position as the principal of the Heyworth Junior-Senior High School and has already won the admiration of that district and was named superintendent.
Best wishes to her.
Macon County Loses Another One Of The 'Good Guys'
Former Sheriff Lee Holsapple
So sorry to hear of the death of former Macon County Sheriff H. Lee Holsapple. Sheriff Holsapple passed away at 11:35am, January 15, 2017 at St. Mary’s Hospital in Decatur from natural causes at 80 years of age. Sheriff Holsapple was a resident of Macon Illinois, and served as the Macon County Sheriff from 1986 until his retirement in 1998.
I learned of Lee's death from the Macon County Sheriff's Office which also issued this statement: "The condolences of everyone at the Macon County Sheriff’s Office are extended to the family of Sheriff Holsapple at this time of loss."
In my association with him over the years he served as sheriff and before that, when he served as chief deputy for many years, Lee was a good and decent guy who always sought to do the right thing.
When I ran for my first term as mayor, Lee gave me the steel posts for my campaign signs that he had used when he ran for office.
I went to his farm to pick them up and we had a great conversation about public service.
He was always the same person whether he was sheriff or a private citizen.
Condolences to his family and many, many friends.
Listen to the “City Hall Insider” hour with Paul Osborne on Byers & Co. at 7:00 every Thursday morning over NEWS/TALK 1340 WSOY or visit our website at decaturtribune.net and find us on Facebook.
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