• THE CANDIDATES FOR Decatur mayor and three city council seats are now known since the deadline for filing nominating petitions ended Monday at 5:00 p.m. In the mayor’s race, there are 4 candidates: Incumbent Julie Moore Wolfe, Kara Demirjian Huss, Councilman David Horn and Jacob Jenkins. In the race for the three city council seats up for election, the candidates are: Incumbents Bill Faber and Lisa Gregory with challengers Marty Watkins, Shavon Francis, Shelith Hansbro, Rodney Walker and John Phillips, Jr. The other city council incumbent with an expiring term is Dr. Dana Ray who is not running for reelection. There will not be a primary election because the candidates for mayor and councilmembers fell under the required number. The number of candidates for mayor fell one short of 5, the required number for a Feb. 21 primary and there wasn’t much doubt before the filing that city council members would not have enough candidates to necessitate a primary (13).
If there are no successful challenges or objections to the candidates who filed, Kara Demirjian Huss will be the first name on the April 6th ballot because she was the first to file, followed by Moore Wolfe, Horn and Jenkins. What would happen if all four candidates for mayor filed at the same time — 8:00 a.m. on the first day of filing? (If you are present and ready to file at 8:00 you are considered the first one to file, even though the city clerk processes each candidate individually.) A lottery would be held if all four candidates filed at 8:00 on the first day to determine the order on the ballot.
When I ran for my first term as mayor, three of the candidates (including myself) were present at 8:00 a.m. on the first day of filing, so a lottery was held on another day to determine where our names would appear on the ballot. Councilwoman Betsy Stockard was the winner of the lottery and her name appeared first on the mayoral primary ballot. I was listed second or third on the ballot as a result of the lottery. Back then, the top two finishers of the mayoral candidates moved on to the general election in April. Since I was fortunate enough to finish first in the primary election, I was listed first on the general election ballot.
City Clerk Kim Althoff will hold a lottery on Dec. 4 in her office to determine if Shavon Francis or Marty Watkins will appear first on the ballot since both filed at 8:00 a.m. on the first day of filing. The other candidates will be on the ballot in the order they filed. I don’t anticipate anyone filing objections to any of the candidates’ petitions, but it has happened in a few elections in the past. Usually, the objection is based on a candidate not having enough valid signatures on his or her petitions and — a decade or so ago, some candidates were knocked off of the ballot on that objection and also on how the petitions were presented to the city clerk. Regardless of the stated motivation it is usually about knocking some of the competition off of the ballot.
Personally, in a city our size, I don’t see any real advantage of being first on the ballot. I think there is an advantage in being first if you are running in a city like Chicago, where some races often have dozens of candidates in a primary election. Of course, being first on the ballot in any election certainly doesn’t hurt a candidate.
• CITY COUNCIL candidate Marty Watkins will be holding a news conference at the Decatur Civic Center On Dec. 5th at 5:30 p.m. Watkins, who is a disabled veteran, was unsuccessful when he ran for the city council in the 2016 race. I’ll have more information about the candidates for mayor and city council as we move towards the election. I’ll also let you know about such news conferences and meetings if the candidates and their campaigns let me know.
• NEWLY re-elected Macon County Treasurer Republican Ed Yoder stopped by the Tribune this week to thank us for our coverage of his campaign and race. I’m always happy to see Ed and congratulations to him on financing his campaign with his own dollars. That’s tough to do in any race for public office but Ed did it — and won against a strong candidate. He obviously has a strong base of support in Macon County.
• IT WAS on Thanksgiving Day in the late 1990s when Darrell W. Beck called and told me that he had been watching and reading about my efforts to collect private donations to build a new Central Park Fountain, since the old fountain had serious problems, including leaks, cracks. drainage problems and standing stagnant water to name a few. I started the effort after I complained about its condition and was encouraged to do something about it by then-City Manager Jim Williams who visited me at the Tribune. I accepted the challenge and started going to service clubs and other groups to raise the funds. I also kept a running total on the back page of this newspaper to show people how much was being collected. I had raised several thousands of dollars but would need a lot more.
THEN, DARRELL called and told me that he was pledging to me a challenge grant of $25,000 — meaning, if I could collect $25,000 in private donations, he would match that amount. It was a good thing I was sitting down when he issued the challenge! He even offered to deposit the $25,000 in the bank the next day — but I told him that wasn’t necessary because I trusted him to keep his word.
DARRELL BECK’S challenge grant got the attention of a lot of people and by the time the private funds I was collecting got to the end of the campaign, and the fountain fund drive project was completed five years later the total on the weekly chart on the back page was in excess of $200,000, which was presented to the City of Decatur in the form of a jumbo check.
DARRELL and his wife, Ursula, contributed generously to a long list of charitable causes in Decatur because of their love for this community. They also raised seven children who have that same charitable spirit. His support of the fountain project, as its first major contributor, was certainly only one small part of all the lives and organizations the Becks helped along the way and inspired others to help. Darrell passed away in 2011 at the age of 78, seven years after the death of Ursula — and Decatur lost a champion of helping others.
LAST TUESDAY, Darrell W. Beck became the latest resident to be inducted into the Decatur Hall of Fame during a news conference at the civic center where the hall is located. There of the Beck children, Matt Beck, Maggie Beck-Pugh and Amy Bliefnick, were there to accept the honor for him. As I reflect on that Thanksgiving Day many years ago, I remember that phone call from Darrell and what it meant to me to have him believe in the project and contribute financially to its success. Congratulations to the Beck family on this well-deserved honor for Darrell. Charitable people like Darrell are the reason this community is so great!
• FINALLY, Macon County Clerk Steve Bean’s last few days in office before his retirement are here — after 28 years in the position. Steve has done an incredible job as county clerk and he’s been a good friend of mine for all of those 28 years and then some. That friendship continues on… Enjoy your retirement, Steve. You’re a great county clerk and friend.