Clinton Journal Questionnaire Forum


County board candidates make their pitch

• Candidates in the November 6 county board election were invited to answer five questions, three general 

questions and two more specific questions.  Candidates needed to return their responses by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, October 30 for publication in today’s print edition of the newspaper.  Three candidates did not return responses.

The questionnaire also is on the Clinton Journal Web site at www.theclintonjournal.com

Nathan Ennis, Republican

County Board District D (challenger)

Please tell a little about yourself?

I’m a lifelong Clinton resident, graduating from Clinton High School in 2012. From there I attended Olivet Nazarene University and earned my Accounting degree before starting at State Farm. I attend Life Foursquare Church in Decatur, where my family has been attending since the 1980s. I love baseball, especially Cubs baseball and I coach almost year-round. 

Why do you want to be elected/re-elected to the DeWitt County Board?

Since January, I have been walking door to door finding out what’s most important to my neighbors, including jobs, transparency, and fiscal responsibility. If elected, I will continue listening and will voice those priorities on the County Board. 

What is your philosophy about the function of county government and its role in serving the county’s residents? 

County government has to carry out the duties mandated by the state but in a way that the county residents wish. Law enforcement, elections, and property records are all vital functions of county government, looking for the most efficient and effective way to carry out those duties should be the priority of all board members. 

What are your thoughts about the direction comprehensive planning should take in mapping out the county’s future success?

Our nation’s economy is booming and it’s time we see some of that growth here at home. The county board’s comprehensive planning plays a vital role in the steps we take moving into the future. It’s important that we have visionary leaders be a part of that process.

What is your position on the planned Alta Farms wind energy project?

I don’t have a position on the wind farm project. It’s absolutely necessary to protect the property rights of all residents of the county.

Terry Ferguson, Republican

County Board District B (incumbent)

Please tell a little about yourself?

I am a family farmer and life long resident of Harp Township in DeWitt County. My wife Katherine and I have been married for 42 years and have raised 4 children of which 3 still live the Clinton area. We have 7 grandchildren that bring joy to our family. I have served as the president of the DeWitt County Farm Bureau and am active in many community organizations. I take the job of being a county board member very seriously.

Why do you want to be elected/re-elected to the DeWitt County Board? 

I am running for re-election to the DeWitt County Board and am doing so to continue to serve the county’s citizens to make DeWitt County a safe and prosperous place for our children and grandchildren. I currently serve as the property chairman and the vice chair of the finance and marina committees. I am proud that we are going to have about an 8 percent reduction in our county tax levy for next year. I want to continue the work of providing the services for our county while keeping our finances strong.

What is your philosophy about the function of county government and its role in serving the county’s residents? 

I believe that county government has the duty to provide for the safety of the public while keeping in mind that tax dollars are not unlimited. The County Board is charged with providing for the services as required by the state and federal governments. These unfunded mandates must be paid for with local dollars. It is the duty of board members to balance the wants of the citizens with the needs of the citizens. It is a careful balancing act provide for these services and to maintain the financial ability to deal with unknown surprises.

What are your thoughts about the direction comprehensive planning should take in mapping out the county’s future success?

I have been involved with county zoning and comprehensive planning off and on since 1977. I served as a member of the first Planning Commission after county zoning was approved in 1976. Serving as the past Land Use Chair of the County Board, has given me the insight to the complete process of making the plan, fitting our ordinances to the plan, and working with the zoning officer to enforce the ordinances. Our current comprehensive plan is very outdated and is being rewritten. Serving on the task force completing this process has been a work of love for our county. The plan will give direction for growth while preserving the character of our community.

What is your position on the planned Alta Farms wind energy project?

The planned Alta II wind farm will be the biggest project to impact DeWitt County since the Clinton Power Plant was announced in the early 70s.  The county has the full authority in the permitting of a wind farm. This is why it is important for the county to have the best ordinance possible for the siting and operation of wind farms. Over the last 3 years, I have spent hundreds of hours researching the impacts of wind farms in other counties. I have been very vocal in getting our wind ordinance updated to minimize impacts to the nonparticipating neighbors. DeWitt County should take advantage of what other counties have learned through the siting of wind facilities. It has been said by some that “we have an ordinance in place and should just follow it and make changes later if we see problems.” I believe that we should require a developer to use technologies available to minimize the impact to nonparticipating owners. I have led the charge to require ADLS systems to eliminate the flashing lights and to use the software on the generators to reduce shadow flicker on those homes affected.  While I support the right of a property owner to do what they want on their land, the purpose of zoning is to make sure that changes in land use does not harm the property of the neighbors. This is truly a contentious issue the deserves to be properly evaluated, giving all sides a chance to be heard.

I will be proactive in asking what I hope are the right questions in this process. 

Dan Matthews, Republican

County Board District D (challenger)

Please tell a little about yourself?

My wife and I are both life-long residents of Dewitt County and Clinton High School graduates.   After high schooI, I went on to get a degree in Economics from the University of Illinois and spent the first 15 years of my career as a Sales Manager for Wallace Computer Services.  I have spent the last 8 years as the VP of Sales for CDS Office Technologies, a leading IT and Communication company in Central Illinois.  In my spare time, I stay busy as the President of the School Board, President of the Junior Football League and the Treasurer of the Dewitt County Republican party.  

Why do you want to be elected/re-elected to the DeWitt County Board?

Many people have asked me why I want to be on the county board.  I believe everyone should volunteer to serve their community in some capacity and I now want to serve my community as a county board member.  The county board serves a vital role in the quality of life of its citizens and I intend on taking this responsibility very seriously.  We live in a great community and I want to keep it that way.  As a county board member, I will push to grow our local economy by working to bring new businesses to Dewitt County and keep Dewitt County a tax friendly community.  Dewitt County has lots to offer outside companies and we have to assemble a business minded team to entice these companies to come to Dewitt County to provide more jobs for our current residents as well as provide opportunities for our children and grandchildren to be able to raise their families in Dewitt County.

What is your philosophy about the function of county government and its role in serving the county’s residents? 

The county board is the governing body that oversees county budgets, establishes tax rates, reviews zoning, planning and land use matters as wells approval of licenses and permits.  These are all extremely important roles as they all effect the personal property rights of all citizens of Dewitt County and I will not take this responsibility lightly.  I will be fiscally responsible when budgeting for the county departments and make sure they have the resources and tools they need to serve everyone in the community.  At the same time, we must look to the future and build a plan to grow the local economy and make tough choices as to what type of community we want to leave for our children and not look for short-term gains that we may regret down the road. 

What are your thoughts about the direction comprehensive planning should take in mapping out the county’s future success?

One of the ways to build a plan for the future is to have a strong countywide comprehensive business plan with a strong emphasis on growing our agricultural presence.  Dewitt County has so much to offer including, great schools, churches, local banks, state parks, Clinton Lake, trusted healthcare, longtime family owned businesses, some of the richest agricultural land in the country and other great business partners such as Exelon.  The county board,  the city council, chamber of commerce, DCDC, the school board and local business partners must work together to promote the assets our county offers.

What is your position on the planned Alta Farms wind energy project?

The county board will be facing many issues in the near future, and at the forefront of those issues is the proposed wind farm.  The board must consider the personal property rights of all citizens before moving forward and approving a permit to build the wind farm or any other similar type of business.  The unsubstantiated tax revenue numbers and promise of 20 new jobs, not local jobs, is more than enough for me to question if the company wanting to build the wind farm has the best interest of Dewitt County residents in mind.  

Cris Rogers, Democratic

County Board District D (incumbent)

Please tell a little about yourself?

I’m married to Loretta Rogers for 44 years and we have three grown boys with families of their own . We have lived in DeWitt County for all of our 63 years. We both graduated high school in 1973, the first graduating class from the new school built at its current location. Out of high school I went to work at Revere Copper and Brass until they unfortunately closed. I owned Paul Sales and Service for twelve years before moving on to Bridgestone America’s. Some of my fondest memories of growing old here are working with the youth both as a coach and a referee for twenty plus years, technical director of the high school theatre department and participating in numerous civic projects with the Clinton High School Class of 73. Our class motto is “because we’re all in this together,” still holds firm today.

Why do you want to be elected/re-elected to the DeWitt County Board?

I am seeking re-election to the Dewitt County Board in order to continue the positive path that this current board has carved out. I am very proud of what we have obtained through transparent co-operation with zero party implications. We have and will continue to operate as one mindful unity. All issues that have been presented to this board have been discussed, studied and presented to this county in a fair and unbiased manner.

What is your philosophy about the function of county government and its role in serving the county’s residents? 

In my opinion the function of county government is one that requires non-agenda decisions based solely on credible information of what’s best for the tax payers of this county. Their tax dollars need to be put to the best policies available for the whole county. There is no room or positive need for voting to use tax payers dollars for one’s personal agenda. I am chairperson of Public Safety, have a committee seat on both Property and Finance Committees. These appointments allow me to see our county’s day to day operation on all issues.

What are your thoughts about the direction comprehensive planning should take in mapping out the county’s future success?

It has been many years since our last comprehensive plan. A lot has changed, a lot will continue to change. Change always causes emotion that emotion will be positive, negative or neutral. A quality comprehensive plans gives all of us a good method to see how our county is progressing, where we need to improve to progress further and what the game plan should be. This plan is laid out with varied opinions being brought to one solution. Not everyone has to agree with all of the contents, but we have to agree to work hard towards positive impact on our county’s growth.

What is your position on the planned Alta Farms wind energy project?

When the board started with process of establishing a set of ordinances over two years ago, I worked hard to study all available information, communicating with several individuals who had been part of the construction of the wind farm in Leroy and ultimately based my decision on not the now but the future of DeWitt County. I have based my favorable position on this project on this undeniable fact that we, as a board, have provided DeWitt County with the most compressive set of ordinances negotiated with the public’s safety, probability of the project and the future of Dewitt County as the main priority. In my opinion there is no “Plan B” for our schools, our fire department, our mental health facilities or the future for our youth. We need to give our youth a reason to grow up and continue to live in DeWitt County with the same opportunities I had in my early years.

Melonie Tilley, Republican

County Board District D (incumbent)

Please tell a little about yourself?

My name is Melonie Tilley DeWitt County Board candidate for District D, Precincts 3, 4, 5 and 6. I am married to Mike Tilley and have been a life long resident in DeWitt County, 59 years living in District D. I have 2 sons and 2 grandsons.  My family and I enjoy collecting Disney art and have been known to travel frequently to Disney World and Disneyland.

Why do you want to be elected/re-elected to the DeWitt County Board?

I enjoy being on the County Board, County government continues to change with new laws and state legislatures affecting the local level of government.  As overseers of County levies and budgets, the County offices, Highway Dept, EMA, Animal Control and Sheriffs Dept all do an excellent job in maintaining a budget to keep taxes as low as possible for the homeowners in DeWitt County.

What are your thoughts about the direction comprehensive planning should take in mapping out the county’s future success?

The Comprehensive Plan draft has just recently been released and will be reviewed during the month of November with public comment and possible action for the full County Board.  This plan has been outdated for several years and the new plan looks promising for the future.

What is your position on the planned Alta Farms wind energy project?

Alta Farms wind energy project has submitted the application for special use permits and will soon start the review process in the next few months.

Sue Whitted, Democratic

County Board District D (incumbent)

Please tell a little about yourself.

I was born and raised on the farm in DeWitt County.  I have always lived in DeWitt County, except while I was away at school.  I was married to Jim May for 17 years and we have three grown children with families of their own.  I owned and operated Clinton Travel Agency successfully for 32 years and sold to Suzi Davis Travel in 2012.  I am currently married to Ben Whitted.  I am also on the Pastor Parish at my church, here in Clinton, as well as the John Warner Hospital Foundation Board.

Why do you want to be elected / re-elected to the DeWitt County Board?

DeWitt County was always good to me while I owned Clinton Travel.  I felt it was time to give back to my community and ran for county board.  I want to bring tax dollars in to the county with the wind and solar farms.  I also want to continue the progress we are working towards with regards to the Clinton Marina, for example bringing new management and a new restaurant.  Third, I would like to stay involved with the animal shelter and want to continue to support their cause.

What is your philosophy about the function of county government and its role in serving the county’s residents?

We have to take into account all 16,266 (as of 2016) residents.  We have to look at different revenues to support our local police, ambulance, county workers, roads, and our schools.  We, on the board, can’t always please everyone but we have to take into account the other 16,000 residents and what our Board, as a unit, sees as best for them. There is no denying that this job can be extremely challenging at times. I do not or will not take for granted my position or the responsibilities that come with it.

What are your thoughts about the direction comprehensive planning should take in mapping out the county’s future success?

Encourage economic development within the county by creating a friendly stage for investors by working with DeWitt County Development Council and city government to share ideas and methods.  Maintain a rural residential atmosphere while creating solid ordinances for green energy development and making the county less dependent on Exelon for revenue.

What is your position on the planned Alta Farms wind energy project?

As chairperson of the Land Committee.  I have worked on the ordinances for the wind farms for the last three years – including visits across the country to other wind farms.  The ordinance was adopted by all members of the board, the Regional Planning Committee, and Zoning Board in 2009.  We did change some of the ordinances, but as a board we only chose to accept a couple.  My position is to let the 67 wind towers be built.


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