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City Beat: Neighbors Rally To Stop New School From Being Built In Lincoln Park

Editor Paul Osborne

     THE ‘Letter to the Editor” from Phil Clary that is printed in today’s print and online editions of the Decatur Tribune, does a good job of explaining how the neighbors of Lincoln Park feel about a new school that is being proposed for the park. To indicate that residents of the area are upset is an understatement.      

     They are more than upset. They have organized to do battle to make sure a new school is not their new neighbor. THE GROUP is called Lincoln Park Advocates and it met last week at St. John’s Episcopal Church to organize support against building a new school in Lincoln Park. The group will meet again this Thursday (July 7) at 6:00 p.m. at St. John’s to discuss their opposition.

     I had received some inquiries about the project from a few of the neighbors BEFORE Decatur School District and the Decatur Park District released a joint statement on June 27 that they were in talks about the idea of building a school in Lincoln Park, though no decision had been made at that point.

     My “Viewpoint” column in today’s print and online editions of the Decatur Tribune is about the uprising of the Lincoln Park neighbors, and others, and their strong desire to block any construction of a new school in that park.

     • PRIMARY THOUGHTS — It’s been over a week since the primary election was held and, as the dust from the long campaign has settled, it is time to examine what we learned, if anything, from the results of the election besides, of course, who won.

     • The influence of former President Donald Trump is still strong in our part of the country, as his endorsement and personal appearance on behalf of 15th Congressional District Candidate Rep. Mary Miller directly contributed to her beating longtime Congressman Rodney Davis. Miller campaigned on the platform of being endorsed by Trump and that was about it, while Davis had (has) an impressive record in office of bringing funds back to our district for a multitude of projects made possible by being able to work with both sides of the aisle. Davis also was in line for even greater clout during the next term due to his seniority.

     Miller’s presence in Macon County was almost non-existent and I could not, along with several other members of the media in the 15th District, get an interview with her. I’ve never met her. Davis is the most accessible congressman I’ve known in my decades of being editor of this newspaper. The majority of the voters in Macon County voted for Davis, but that was not enough to offset the Miller votes in the other counties.

     I can only wish the best for Congresswoman Mary Miller. She will have a Democratic opponent, Paul Lange, in the November General Election but, at this point, she is expected to win easily. Hopefully, she will get to know this part of her district and be successful in representing us in a positive way and helping to meet the needs of our community.

     • REGAN DEERING of Decatur won the Republican Primary in the 13th Congressional District, which includes part of Macon County, beating three other candidates, while Nikki Budzinski easily won the Democrat Primary in the 13th with 76% of the vote over David Palmer. I had written in an earlier column that I felt the 13th Republican race would come down to either Deering or Jesse Reising and that’s the way it happened — with Deering winning 35% of the vote to Reising’s 33%. I was surprised that Matt Hausman didn’t run a stronger campaign, but he still won 24% of the vote with Terry Martin finishing fourth with 9%. Deering and Reising had really strong campaigns with solid fundraising totals and they campaigned hard. I received several “letters to the editor” endorsing Deering, including one from former State Rep. Bill Mitchell.

     So, it will be Deering against Budzinski in November’s General Election to see who will be representing those living in the IL-13th. It will be an interesting campaign to watch considering the 13th was especially redrawn by the Democrats for Nikki Budzinski. However, Deering is a tough campaigner and, if the economy and other troublesome issues continue to be aggravating the public, Deering will pick up ground.

      Republican Macon County Sheriff Jim Root beat challenger Cody Moore by a wide margin (75% to 25%) and this time, unlike four years ago, there is no doubt that Root won and he will have a full term ahead of him because there is no democrat running for the office in the general election. As I mentioned on Byers & Co. last week, the sentiment of many Tribune readers was that Root needed more time to implement his upgrades in the office even though he has done a lot to improve morale in the one year he has been in office. This was a refreshingly clean campaign with neither candidate jumping on the other. During my interviews with both men, there wasn’t any derogatory statements made about each other. Both are good men who care about the community.

      SHANE Mendenhall won the Republican Primary for Macon County Circuit Judge by beating Rodney Forbes. Mendenhall will move on to the November General Election and face Democrat Andrew R. Weatherford. The campaign between Mendenhall and Forbes was very high profile for a circuit judge race and I received more letters to the editor from supporters of both men letters to the editor in support of each candidate from a lot of people interested in seeing either Mendenhall or Forbes elected to the office. Both men presented solid reasons the voting public should choose them for the position and did extensive advertising to get their message out. Although Judge Forbes lost the election he will remain an important part of the judicial system in Macon County as associate judge.

     • THESE were some of the races that held special interest for me and that I’ve written about in past columns. Of course, for all of the efforts the candidates, their supporters and families, and the media, put into covering the various campaigns, the voter turnout in Macon County was simply awful. Although the Republicans especially had a lot of choices on the ballot, less than one in four registered voters cast a ballot in the primary, That’s dismal but represents the interest most people have in elections today. That’s sad when I think about people in this world who, in some of today’s countries, risk their lives to vote.

     • THERE’S going to be quite an opportunity for area residents to take in incredible paintings from Michelangelo at a “Different View” from July 8 to August 7, at the Decatur Civic Center.  The exhibit is closed on Mondays, but Tuesdays and Wednesdays, the exhibit will be open from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Thursday through Sunday, visitors can attend from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. For more information, visit their website. Tuesday – Friday, admission for adults is $16 and $10 for children ages 6-14. Saturday – Sunday, admission for adults is $17, same price as before for children.

     Hopefully, a big response will occur with great attendance of those wanting to take a closer look at a special exhibition in our community.

     • IT WAS nice to see former State Rep. John Dunn of Decatur honored last week with a special plaque that’s going to hang in the Decatur Civic Center. The award is for the effort John put in while a state representative in securing funding to build the Decatur Civic Center. Dunn served on the Decatur City Council before representing Decatur as a Democrat in the Illinois legislature from 1975 to 1995.

     John Dunn has been a friend for nearly 50 years and I covered him both during his city council service and during the years he served as state representative. It doesn’t seem possible that its been over 40 years since he was involved in securing funding for the civic center. I still remember the day that John stopped by my office to tell me that he, after 20 years as state representative, was not going to seek re-election. It was a little emotional for both of us because of all of our conversations and interviews, and he reminds me of that visit every once-in-a-while when I see him. I always appreciated John’s independence when it came to representing the people of his district. Although his party affiliation was, and is, democrat, he did not let the party cast his votes. He voted based on the merits of what was proposed.

     Congratulations to John. It’s good to see longtime friends honored for their contributions to the community over the years.

     • I JOIN Brian Byers on WSOY’s Byers & Co. every Thursday morning at 7:00 and we always have a lot to discuss on the “City Hall Insider”.

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