WE NOW KNOW that at least one of the three city council seats up for election next spring will not be filled by an incumbent. Long-time friend and city councilman Patrick McDaniel told me over the weekend that he will not be running for re-election.
He told me: “Although I have been honored to serve and represent the citizens of Decatur on the Decatur City Council for the past ten years in working with my fellow council members and city staff in improving the community for the present and planning ahead for the future needs of the community I have decided not to seek another term on the council during the upcoming municipal election.”
Pat is also the mayor pro tem and the liquor commissioner. He also was a reporter for this newspaper for several years before his election to the council. It seems like only yesterday that he won election to serve his first term after seven years of running for the office. I’ll have more on Pat when he leaves his seat on the council.
• I ALSO touched base with Councilman Chuck Kuhle, whose council seat, along with Pat McDaniel’s position, is up for election about his plans. He told me that he will announce a decision after Labor Day. Councilman David Horn occupies the third council seat that will be up for election in the spring and Horn has already announced that he is running for re-election.
• IT’S NOT GOING to get any easier for the city council as the fight continues to defend the community against COVID-19, keep the infection numbers down and deal with the huge negative financial impact on the City of Decatur budget for several years to come. It’s really a tough time for elected officials in any community. Disagree with our mayor, or council members, or city manager, on what is or needs to be done.
If you feel the need to do so, even proclaim that you are going to vote for someone else during the next election, but don’t demean and try to destroy the character of the people who have stepped forward and are serving in public office in our community. The mayor’s position pays $8,000 per year and a city council member is paid $4,000. Considering the number of hours the positions demand, all are making far less than the minimum wage. Those who run for the office, who are honestly motivated, do so to serve the community, not get rich. It’s called public service and its foundation is help make Decatur better.
• Labor Day is coming on Monday, Sept. 7, but it won’t seem the same in Decatur as the annual parade will not be held through downtown and the giant picnic in the park has also been cancelled due to coronavirus concerns. The Decatur Trades & Labor Assembly, like about all labor organizations across Central Illinois and beyond, had no choice but to cancel the events as the pandemic has wiped out about all other major public gatherings for the past six months.
Not only has Labor Day in Decatur been a showcase for focusing on “the working men and women” in our community, but it has also been the kick-off for the final stretch run involving candidates in the November 3 General Election. Groups supporting candidates marched in past Labor Day parades to promote the candidacy of the man or woman they were working to get elected, or re-elected, in the approaching election.
During the years I served as mayor, being in the Labor Day Parade was one of the “perks” of serving the public and I always enjoyed riding in the convertible and meeting all of the people before, during and after the parade. Whether it was making the opening statement of “Let The Celebration Begin” each year at the Decatur Celebration, or participating in the parades, they were really fun and enjoyable parts of being mayor and were some of the “stress-relieving” aspects of the mayor’s position. (Obviously, there were a few parts of being mayor that weren’t so enjoyable.)
• PRESENT MAYOR Julie Moore Wolfe, because of the pandemic, has not been able to enjoy those same perks this year as the Decatur Celebration, parades and many enjoyable events that go with the position, have not been held. There has been, and continues to be, plenty of stress, however, through working hard to keep the COVID-19 infection and death numbers at a low rate, not only to protect lives but to keep the economy from being destroyed. She has also received some really nasty personal attacks on social media by people who, of course, have the luxury of sitting at home and taking out their frustration on the mayor.
• I JOIN Brian Byers on WSOY’s Byers & Co. every Thursday morning at 7:00, for the City Hall Insider part of his show. We’ve been doing it via phone the past six months because of the pandemic and I’m not sure when we will be able to chat in the studio again. Whether it is in person, or via phone, I always enjoy talking with Brian about our community.