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GOD BLESS AMERICA
People, Places And Local Races
• DOES City Council Candidate Chris Riley want to use his city council seat (if he wins) as a stepping stone to run for state representative?
That’s one of the rumors that is floating around the community.
I asked Riley about it and he flatly denied any aspirations for running for anything but a local office, adding “I’m not going to give up my job and pension at ADM to run for anything outside the community. My focus is on helping my community by serving in a local office.”
I believe you can put that rumor to rest, although it wouldn’t surprise me to see him run for mayor sometime in the future.
For now, he leaves no doubt that he supports Mayor Julie Moore Wolfe’s candidacy and would not be a happy camper if her opponent won on April 4th.
Riley will hold another “meet and greet” Wednesday, March 29 from 7 – 9 a.m. at Coney McKane’s, 104 E. Prairie St., Decatur.
• A FEW BUSINESS leaders who have talked to me in recent days apparently believe John Phillips has a good chance to defeat Mayor Julie Moore Wolfe in the upcoming election. Others have expressed some slight concern that she might not win.
Phillips has run a stronger campaign for mayor than most people who keep tabs on what’s happening in local races, expected.
One gentleman that I’ve known for many years, and who has been involved in a lot of elections, told me privately that he has no hesitation in predicting that Phillips will win on April 4th and he is not a fan of Phillips.
He has that belief despite the fact that Moore Wolfe has picked up the endorsements of both business and labor groups, including the Decatur Trades & Labor Assembly, Central Illinois Political Action Committee and the City of Decatur Firefighters. Phillips has essentially not picked up an official endorsement from any organization -- at least as this edition goes to press.
Still, in an election where traditionally only one out of five registered voters even bothers to cast a ballot -- anything can happen, especially in the campaign atmosphere we witnessed in the presidential race last year, where Donald Trump’s victory created a lot of embarrassment for most commentators, pundits and pollsters.
I don’t believe that will translate to our local election, but it’s a different atmosphere out there today and no race should be taken for granted.
• LITTLE INTEREST? Macon County Clerk Steve Bean told me the first of the week that, at that point, only 476 city voters had requested ballots for the Consolidated Election, compared to 1505 two years ago by this time.
Steve said that to compare favorably with the election two years ago “We are going to need a serious uptick in business” between now and April 4th.
Steve added: “We hear more about the school board election. Mostly all we hear is the mayor’s contest does not turn anyone on and might keep turn-out down.”
• ADVICE -- Parking in a “No Parking” zone is not a great idea for a candidate for mayor, city council or any other local office -- or a citizen.
More than one person has told me mayoral candidate John Phillips parks in the “No Parking” zone at St. Teresa High School, or was parking there when he attended basketball games.
Dave Wilhour told me that he talked with Phillips and asked him why he parked in the “No Parking” zone at St. T.
According to Wilhour, Phillips told him it was because he wanted those attending the games to be sure to see his mayoral candidacy signs on his vehicle.
Wilhour even shot a photo of the “No Parking” parking and sent it to me.
I think Phillips is a smart man, but it’s simply very poor judgment to park a campaign-decorated car in a “No Parking” space. He should know that only gets votes for his opponent -- because it makes it look like he is too good to park where he should with the rest of game attendees.
A lot of people won’t pay much attention to a candidate’s ideas for the city, (even if they are reasonable) if they see his or her car parked in a “No Parking” zone.
Phillips should know better.
• WHAT!!! One of the “letters to the editor” submitted to this newspaper declared: “It’s time to get rid of the city manager!”
I was somewhat shocked by the blunt declaration until I noticed it was from a group of old letters to the editor in a file from 2007!
It seems like someone is always trying to get rid of our city manager -- and that demand was three city managers ago!
Usually it is about “He thinks he runs the city!”
Duh... that’s what a city manager is hired to do and he lasts as long as at least four members of the city council believe he is doing a good job.
From all indications, all but one member of the present city council, and most of the candidates think he is doing a good job -- a point Mayor Julie Moore Wolfe is successfully making. She believes citizens do not know everything the city manager does to make the city better -- and how closely he works with her and the city council to move the community in the right direction.
John Phillips claims the city manager has not been properly “trained and coached” by the mayor and Phillips is going to do just that, if he wins.
• IN THE midst of the hot battle for the four seats on the Decatur Board of Education between incumbents B. A. Buttz and Alida Graham and challenging slate members Beth Creighton, Kendall Briscoe and Beth Nolan -- challenger Al Scheider is not getting involved in the debate, but running on his experience in education and he seems to be picking up a lot of support. I’ve been getting a lot of “Letters to the Editor” supporting Scheider and, since four seats are up for election, he may well grab one of the four seats in the election.
That will be an interesting aspect of the school board election, regardless of what candidates win the other three seats.
The other candidate, whose name appears on the ballot, is Courtney Carson.
Janice Gavin is a write-in candidate.
Listen to the “City Hall Insider” hour with Paul Osborne on Byers & Co. at 7:00 every Thursday morning over NEWS/TALK 1340 WSOY.
Central Park Fountain in Downtown Decatur
The Fourth District Appellate Court released its ruling late Friday dismissing former Decatur Police Chief Brad Sweeney's appeal in his wrongful termination lawsuit against the City of Decatur.
A three-judge panel affirmed Macon County Judge A. G. Webber IV's dismissal of the lawsuit last year.
Decatur Mayor Julie Moore Wolfe issued the following statement: "Since the beginning of this dispute, I had full confidence in our city manager. That has been affirmed every step of the way in the legal process. Four judges and a special prosecutor have concluded that Tim Gleason’s actions were proper. I hope now our community will move beyond this episode and the positive momentum will continue."