Some Personal Thoughts About Councilmen Foster, Laegeler And
Monday night was the last regular Decatur City Council meeting for Larry Foster and Patrick Laegeler -- at least as city councilmen. Both men have served on the council for many years. Larry Foster served terms in 1977- 81, 1995 - 1999 and since 2008. I don’t believe there’s ever been a city councilman who has served at three different times on council. When his term ends on April 30th he will have served for some 15 years. Larry was not a city councilman during the same years that I served as mayor, so I never had the opportunity to serve with him -- which was my loss. However, during the time he was a private citizen, and I was the mayor, I found him to be very supportive of what the City of Decatur was working on at that time. I have always appreciated his friendship, which goes back 50 years. Larry’s contributions to many other efforts in the community have always been very positive in making our area a better place to live. Patrick Laegeler was already serving as a councilman when I was elected to my first term as mayor in 2003, so he has served before, during, and after the time I was there. I always found Pat to be someone who did his council homework and was prepared for his votes at council meetings -- but was also ready to listen to opposing points of view. I thought of him as the “numbers guy” because he studied what the dollars and numbers in city finances meant and could be counted on to make solid decisions and cast his votes based on whether there was “financial sense” connected to programs. He always treated me with respect during the years I served as mayor, and even if there was an issue on which we disagreed, he never made his point in a hateful or disagreeable way. As Larry and Pat return to the private sector at the end of the month, newly-elected Bill Faber and Lisa Gregory will take their places. Over thirty years of city council experience will leave with Larry and Pat, and the community owes both of them a debt of gratitude for serving all of those years to make the community a better place. Best wishes to them, and to their replacements who will step into the roles of city council member with zero experience on the council. However, Bill and Lisa will bring fresh ideas, new perspectives and enthusiasm to the council that always happens when there is a “changing of the guard”.
LIVINGSTON HONORED: I am so pleased that the Decatur City Council voted unanimously Monday night in support of honoring the late Horace Livingston by naming Marion Street, just north of Mueller Park, after him. Mr. Livingston, who published the weekly “Voice” newspaper passed away last year at the age of 92. I met Horace when both of us were starting to publish our newspapers back in the late 1960s -- and we had a lot of differences between us at the beginning. Over the years, as we often talked, a mutual respect developed. I appreciated him as not only a newspaper publisher, but an advocate for the African-American community in a variety of ways that made all of us better. As mayor, it was my great pleasure to honor him, with the Stephen Decatur Medallion -- the city’s highest honor for his decades of service -- and, more recently, to add my support for other honors recognizing his efforts. Things are a lot different now in Decatur than they were in the 1960s -- and Horace Livingston is one of the reasons for that difference.
SAD NEWS: I was saddened by the news last week that former Decaturite Tom Daly, 77, had passed away on April 14. One of his daughters, Catherine Daly, sent me the sad news: “My Dad, Tom Daly, passed away on Tuesday evening at the West Palm Beach VA Hospital, with Mom (Joyce) by his side. He had been ill for many years.” Catherine also wrote she wanted me to know, because “we have many dear friends there, as well as many dear friends from Decatur who live in Southwest Florida”. Many of us remember Tom Daly as manager of the popular Swartz Restaurant for years and later as having a successful career in commercial real estate. I got to know him better covering the two terms that he served on the Decatur City Council. I had not seen Tom in several years but I learned several weeks ago from a mutual friend that he was ill. My condolences to his wife, daughters and other family members. It seems like we’ve been losing a lot of good people in recent months.
Some Details On The D-2
Reports In Mayor’s Race
Following up on an earlier post regarding the mayor's race, during the first quarter of this year (Jan. 1 - March 31) Friends for Mike McElroy reported $27,561 raised on its D-2 Quarterly Report filed Friday with the Illinois State Board of Elections. McElroy had expenses of $27,401.20 so he spent about as much as he raised on the campaign during that quarter. He started with $11,133.07 in funds at the beginning of the quarter and ended the quarter with $11,292.87. Friends for Mike McElroy also reported a $1,000 A-1 contribution on April 1st, which would not have been included in the quarterly report -- but will be reported on the next quarterly report The Livingston for Mayor Campaign, filed its D-2 Quarterly Report last week and reported total receipts of $35,303.32 and $34,883.73 in expenses during the quarter, but the actual filing period was from March 6 (when the committee was officially registered with the ISBE) and March 31. Livingston started with no funds at the beginning of the reporting period (March 6 in his case) and had a fund balance of $419.59 at the end of the period. Between the March 31st Quarterly Report and the April 7th election, the Livingston for Mayor Campaign received nearly $30,000 more during that one week period, including a $10,000 contribution from the Southern Central IL Laborers Political League in Marion, IL. If you add that $30,000 to the $35,303.32 reported for the period between March 6 and March 31st, the Livingston campaign received approximately $65,000 in about one month’s time. That’s the most money I’ve ever seen received by a mayoral candidate during a local election campaign in my decades of covering, and participating as a candidate, in campaigns for mayor.
COMBINATION: If you combine the $65,000 reported by the Livingston for Mayor Campaign and the approximately $28,000 raised by McElroy, you’re looking at well over $90,000 spent between the top two vote getters. Although McElroy had contributions of less than half of Livingston’s, he won the election by double digits. It’s extremely had to beat an incumbent, especially when a challenger is sharing votes with two other challengers in the race. As I mentioned in last week’s column, my general election opponent in the 2003 mayor’s race, and I, raised and spent a combined amount which was in the category of what was spent on the mayor’s race of 2015. The only difference was that we had to spend money getting through a primary election and we received the funds over a longer period of time. Actually, without looking back at total amounts, my opponent raised more money than I did. Still, for a candidate to receive some $65,000 in about a month’s time, as Livingston did, it has to be the single biggest month’s receipts in Decatur’s mayoral race history. Obviously, most of that amount came from various unions -- but they have the same right to contribute funds as anyone else. Of course, when your contributors are shelling out a couple $10,000 checks and $5,000 and $2,500 checks, it can add up very quickly. The various unions wanted to win this race very badly but, when the votes were counted, it wasn’t even that close. Apparently, the voters spoke louder than the money.
CONGRATULATIONS to Mayor McElroy and to the three city council winners -- Dana Ray, Bill Faber and Lisa Gregory. Whether it was the mayor’s office, the city council, the Decatur School Board, The Park District Board of Commissioners or the Richland Community College Board of Trustees --every incumbent won his or her re-election. The only two seats with new people, are the two city council seats won by candidates Gregory and Faber. The two incumbents, Larry Foster and Pat Laegeler are retiring from the city council so did not run for re-election. Obviously, this was a very good year for incumbents in Decatur.
DUSTIN Chapman, who finished fourth in number of mayoral votes called me last week to thank me for the Tribune’s coverage of the campaign and indicated that we will see more of him in future elections. Chapman said he learned a lot about the city and campaigns this time and will put it to use in running for an office again.
IT’S ALWAYS nice to meet with Congressman Rodney Davis when he comes to the Tribune to chat about what’s going on in the nation’s capitol, the district, and specifically, Decatur. Davis also told me that Helen Albert will be assuming the role of his district director. Albert, a native of Blue Mound, will continue to be based out of Davis’ Decatur office and will oversee district operations. (See news article elsewhere on this page.) As the news article points out, Helen has served as a constituent services representative for Davis since 2013 and prior to that she worked for Illinois State Senators Duane Noland, Frank Watson, and Kyle McCarter. As district director, Helen will manage Davis’ six district offices and oversee constituent services. Davis said he was thrilled to have Helen in the position. “I have known Helen for many years and know she will do a great job managing our operations in the district,” Davis said later in a prepared news release. “Helen’s experience, extensive knowledge of the district, and strong ties to the Decatur community have made her an invaluable member of our team and I look forward to having her in this new role.” In her response to the appointment, Albert said: “I am honored and excited for the opportunity to manage Congressman Davis’ district operations. We have an outstanding team in place to serve the residents of the 13th District and the Congressman’s staff and I will continue to work to ensure constituents across the district get the help they need.” The position of district director became available last month when Davis’ former staffer, Tim Butler, was appointed by Governor Rauner to represent the 87th State House District. I’ve known Helen for many years and he couldn’t have made a better choice. Congratulations to Helen.
Livingston Won Money Battle, But McElroy Won Another Term As Mayor
Mayor Mike McElroy, who won re-election last week and G. E. Livingston, his strongest challenger in the race, have filed their D-2 Quarterly Reports with the Illinois State Board of Elections (ISBE). What the D-2 filings show is that Livingston had a ton of money come his way between March 6 (when his committee’s statement of organization was filed) and the April 7th election. In fact, including the D-2 amount and the A-1’s filed during the first week in April, the total for Livingston was somewhere around $65,000 in his unsuccessful attempt to unseat McElroy. That may be the highest amount ever for a mayoral candidate since Decatur’s council/manager form of government was established over a half century ago. McElroy raised less than half that amount (approximately $28,000) during the same period of time. Obviously money was not the determining factor in who won the election. McElroy was re-elected by a sizeable margin with 5,190 votes (46.76%) over challengers Livingston with 3,954 votes (35.62%), Patrick McDaniel with 1,598 votes (14.40%) and Dustin Chapman with 358 votes (3.23%). McDaniel and Chapman weren’t required to file D-2 reports because they had not reached the threshhold of $5,000 in contributions during their campaigns. Without total disclosures on what was spent in the week before the election, on a per vote basis, Livingston spent approximately $16.44 for each vote he received and McElroy spent $5.40 for each vote he received. I'll have more details on the filiing later on this site and in the print edition of the Decatur Tribune.
Mayor McElroy Re-Elected; Ray, Faber And Gregory Win City Council Seats
For many months, I’ve focused on the mayoral and city council races in this column. Now, the results are in and the results went about like I wrote they would go in my last newspaper column before the election. Mayor Mike McElroy was re-elected by a sizeable margin with 5,190 votes (46.76%) over challengers G. E. Livingston with 3,954 votes (35.62%), Patrick McDaniel with 1,598 votes (14.40%) and Dustin Chapman with 358 votes (3.23%). In the race for three city council seats, incumbent Dana Ray led the field with 6,221 votes (22.82%), followed by Bill Faber with 5,829 votes (21.39%) with the third member elected, Lisa Gregory garnering 5,487 votes (20.13%). Fourth was David Horn with 5,063 votes (18.58%), followed by Derrick Thaxton Sr., with 3,114 votes (11.43%) and Robert D. Lewis with 1,542 votes (5.66%). I wrote in my column on the race last week that McElroy would win because of the split votes of his challengers and the lack of a real compelling argument for a change in the postion and that he has done a good job, along with the city council and city manager of guiding the city through some needed projects. I also predicted that Dana Ray, Lisa Gregory and David Horn would win the city council seats, unless Bill Faber picked off one of them. Obviously, that happened. Faber beat both Gregory and Horn to eliminate Horn and gain a seat. My sense was that Faber had a lot more support in the community than many were aware of, but I was a little surprised that he jumped to second place in the city council election, but I thought Faber ran a strong campaign. So...Mayor McElroy will remain in the mayor’s chair for another four years. Dana Ray will remain on the city council for another four year term, and Patrick McDaniel, even though he lost his mayoral bid, will remain in his city council seat for at least another two years before his term expires. Bill Faber and Lisa Gregory will be the new faces on the city council, replacing retiring members Patrick Laegeler and Larry Foster.