• DECATUR City Council Incumbents Chuck Kuhle and David Horn won re-election in Tuesday’s election with Ed Culp handily winning the third open seat. Culp will replace long-time councilman Pat McDaniel who is retiring from the council.
Less than 6,000 ballots were cast in a community of 48,132 registered voters, or 12.4% of eligible voters.
The vote totals were: David J. Horn, 3096, 20.3%, Ed Culp, 3002, 19.68%, Chuck Kuhle, 3119, 20.45%, Marty Watkins, 2527, 16.57%, William (Will) Wetzel, 1800, 11.8% and Jacob Jenkins, 1709, 11.2%.
In all of my years of covering city council races I’ve never seen such disrespect and verbal abuse directed at a council member as Kuhle received over the months leading up to the election by a tiny minority of people who tried to discourage him from running for re-election and then trying to defeat him in his re-election bid. The root cause for the verbal abuse was that Kuhle voted against approving a recreational marijuana dispensary in the city limits of Decatur.
Not only did the verbal attacks fail to defeat Kuhle, he finished third in the Primary Election and then finished first in Tuesday’s election. Four of the six candidates running for council favored a marijuana dispensary. Two, Kuhle and Culp, did not, and both won. If this election was meant to serve as a referendum on locating a dispensary here, the answer was a resounding “no”.
In last week’s column, I endorsed Kuhle, Horn and Culp so, obviously, I’m pleased with the results because we have some solid experience on council with the incumbents and with Ed Culp’s law enforcement background.
Congratulations to Chuck Kuhle, David Horn and Ed Culp. Best wishes as you work to move our community ahead as we start emerging from the pandemic.
• THE Decatur District #61 Board of Education elected four new board members in Tuesday’s election. Here are the numbers from the school board election with the winners in bold. Al Scheider was by far the leading vote-getter with 21.04% of the vote.
Jason Wayne Dion 2430 15.09%
Krystal Johnson 1774 11.02%
Ferlaxnes Carson 1224 7.6%
Kevin Collins-Brown 2989 18.56%
Al Scheider 3387 21.04%
Alana Giselle Banks 2387 14.83%
Jayjuan Young 1910 11.86%
No incumbents ran for re-election.
• THE INCUMBENTS won in the race for two seats on the Decatur Park Board:
Bob Brilley Il 3067 35.21%
Stacey Young 3386 38.87%
Barbara Chapman 2258 25.92%
The results of a lot of other local and area races can be found on the Macon County Clerk’s website https://il-macon.pollresults.net
Report: 35% Of Illinois’ Small Businesses Have
Closed One Year Into COVID-19 Restrictions
The headline above which is from the latest report issued by the nonpartisan Illinois Policy Institute (IPI) is shocking yet confirms the suspicions I’ve had, not only as a newspaper editor, but as the owner of a small business. Even though we continue to publish this newspaper each week, our newspaper office has been closed to public access for well over a year due to COVID-19, not only to protect staff, but the public, from contracting or spreading the virus.
We have managed to survive because so much of our business is either through USPS or online customers. Although publishing a newspaper today is much more difficult than when life was “normal” thankfully the presses continue to roll. However, so many businesses, such as restaurants, must have direct contact with customers in order to survive and with the tight regulations imposed during the past year because of COVID-19, a high number of them have not had the volume to continue.
Several of my long-time business friends have seen their dreams and businesses reduced to financial rubble by the restrictions brought on by COVID’s impact. According to IPI’s report more small businesses have closed in Illinois than in any other Midwestern state, except Michigan
“Small businesses have been badly damaged in Illinois in the year since state-mandated COVID-19 mitigation protocols took effect across the state,” stated the report. “Thirty-five percent of small businesses are closed now compared to before the pandemic, according to data collected from the Opportunity Insights Economic Tracker, a project of Harvard University.”
• HOW ILLINOIS small businesses have fared during one year of pandemic protocols: • 50% of small businesses in the food services and accommodations industry and 51% of small businesses in the leisure and hospitality industry have closed, compared to before the pandemic.
These were the most affected sectors in Illinois.
• Nearly 38% of Illinois small businesses in the educational and health services industry are still closed, the sixth most in the nation.
• Over 30% of small businesses in the transportation industry are still closed in Illinois, the eight-most in the nation.
• Nearly 34% of small retail businesses have closed, eighth-most in the nation.
Bryce Hill, senior research analyst at IPI, offered the following statement: “This data illustrates Illinois small businesses’ struggle to survive during the COVID-19 pandemic over the last year. Small businesses are the main job providers in the state – 69% of all new jobs created in Illinois come from firms with fewer than 20 employees. It’s vital they survive and reopen. “Lawmakers must avoid policies that will further harm the state’s small businesses, including the nine tax hikes currently being considered in the Statehouse. Instead, Illinois can improve its finances and continue to provide core services by implementing constitutional pension reform.” To read more about small business closures, visit: illin.is/ILbusinessloss.
• THE RIPPLE effect of so many businesses closing in Decatur and Illinois spreads out to local governments like the City of Decatur. When businesses go out of business, or their revenue is sharply down, as has been the case the past year, then taxing bodies have less revenue flowing into their coffers to pay for necessary services for residents. It is really as simple as that. For our city council, some projects will have to be put on the back burner until the revenue stream improves and I trust the council will show wisdom and unity in prioritizing spending. I would encourage council not to levy a heavier burden on local taxpayers or businesses. Of course, Gov. J.B. Pritzker has proposed nine new business taxes worth nearly $1 billion as a solution to Illinois’ revenue loss. That’s not a solution, but part of the problem with Illinois’ business climate.
• I JOIN Brian Byers on WSOY’s Byers & Co. Thursday mornings at 7:00 for the City Hall Insider portion of the show. I always enjoy our conversations.