The Consolidated Election is less than two weeks away (April 6) and, considering all of the offices up for election and the choices that voters have to make, there hasn’t been that much excitement generated. We usually have to run an extra page or two of “letters to the editor” written by supporters of the candidates in various races. This week’s edition has barely one regular page (page 2) for letters of support. (Maybe the daily newspaper will have more in their editions before the election.)
I’ll print the specimen ballot for the Consolidated Election in our next edition and, although the same voters won’t be casting ballots in all the races, two extremely critical races involving Decatur residents are for the three seats up for election on the Decatur City Council and the four board seats up for election in the Decatur School District where no incumbents are running for re-election.
The six candidates for the three seats up for election on the Decatur City Council are, in order they finished in the February Primary which is the order they will appear on the April 6th ballot: David J. Horn (incumbent), Ed Culp, Chuck Kuhle (incumbent), Marty Watkins, William (Will) Wetzel and Jacob Jenkins.
Long-time City Councilman Patrick McDaniel has the third seat up for election and he decided to retire after a decade serving in that position. He is also the liquor commissioner and mayor pro-tem, so those two positions will be filled by another council member(s) when the new members are sworn into office. Traditionally, the council member with the most seniority is approved by fellow council members as mayor pro tem. So, regardless of the outcome of the election, there will be a new mayor pro tem and liquor commissioner.
• THERE IS a lot that can be impacted on the direction of the council by this election, and certainly the ability of Mayor Julie Moore Wolfe to keep a steady hand on the direction of the council the last few years. Dealing with the impact of COVID-19 on our local economy will take some extremely wise short and long term decisions to keep Decatur heading in the right direction. Surviving financially has been a major emphasis, not only for businesses and employers, but for local governments as well. The next version of the Decatur City Council will be called upon to make some difficult decisions that will necessitate working in harmony to achieve specific goals for our citizens. Writing as someone who was in the mayor’s position for several years, dealing with the business of the city in today’s environment certainly means working together as a public body now more than ever. Even though there will be disagreements over how best to move ahead, those re-elected or elected to office must be able to resolve differences and provide logical answers to difficult questions affecting Decatur and our future. I will let you know in next week’s edition the three candidates I plan to vote for in the election — and why.
• THERE will be four new faces on the Decatur Public School District #61 Board following the April 6th election. None of the four incumbents up for re-election chose to run again. The race has received even less publicity than the city council race, but, like the council race, it has major impact on our community, especially with the departure of DPS Superintendent Dr. Paul Fregeau who has accepted a position as superintendent of Fox C-6 School District in the St. Louis area. (Story on page 6) The seven candidates for the four seats are: Jason Wayne Dion, Krystal Johnson, Ferlaxnes Carson, Kevin Collins-Brown, Al Scheider, Alana Giselle Banks and Jayjuan Young.
• TWO Decatur Park District Commissioners will be elected on April 6th. Three candidates are running. Barbara Chapman is the challenger and Bob Brilley II and Stacey Young are running for re-election.
• THOSE ARE three of many races involved in the April 6th election, with the city council race undoubtedly receiving the most of what little attention is being paid to this year’s campaigns.
• AFTER appearing on WSOY’s Byers & Co. on Thursday morning for my weekly “City Hall Insider” portion of the show, where Brian and I discussed what had happened to me with Congestive Heart Failure, a mutual friend of many years, sent me the following email: “I echo Brian’s words this morning. It is good to hear your voice, especially knowing what you just endured. My immediate thought was to pray for you and your wife. I’m so thankful that you are on the mend and your story has caused me to quit procrastinating on getting my annual physical. Oddly, I’ve put it off because I know I’m not eating right, have gained weight and don’t want to hear those words of CHANGE. Perhaps God is using your story to touch others like me.
‘Thank you for having the courage to share with the radio audience, as well as your Tribune family. Please add my prayers for you to the many others that you have already received. There is great power in prayer as you have stated. Blessings to you during the special season of Lent. Soon we will be shouting ‘He is Risen. He is Risen indeed’.”
THAT EMAIL really touched me, as did many others, because of its acknowledgment that writing about what I went through may have not only made me healthier, but encouraged others to not let check-ups or health problems remain in the “unknown” category. I’ve always believed that we can make something good out of a bad experience and that’s certainly true if what we learn not only helps us, but helps others by passing it along.