Candidates in the March 17 Primary Election for DeWitt County Board were invited to answer five questions, three general questions and two more specific questions. Candidates needed to return their responses by noon on Wednesday, March 11 for publication in today’s print edition of the Clinton Journal.
Claro “Buck” Carter, Republican
County Board District A (challenger)
I’m Buck Carter running as a Republican for DeWitt County Board District A. My wife Eileen and I live in rural Tunbridge Township east of Kenney. I first moved to DeWitt County in 1966 where my children, grandchildren and great grandchildren live and grew up loving the country living and small town atmosphere of DeWitt County.
Illinois Power Company was my employer for 32 years working in and serving the DeWitt County area. In addition I served 10 years as the Union Representative for IBEW#51 representing the employees of the Clinton Nuclear Station and Ameren. Also, during my working career I owned and operated Carter Real Estate in Clinton from 1980 - 2000. I have been active in Community Service having served on the County Board 1980-1982, Clinton Sanitary District Trustee 1983-1992, Clinton Unit 15 School Board 2005-2017
I’m seeking to be a representative in District A, because after watching and observing the present representative for my District I feel as if they are not in touch with those constituents that live in our District.
I believe the function of local government should be to represent the majority of constituents that elected you. The welfare and safety of the people must govern the elected representative’s choice. There is a moral obligation to support the majority, not to enforce personal preference on the public at large.
The function of the County Board is to best prepare for the future. A strategic plan should be in place to assist with the future growth and development of DeWitt County working with the DeWitt County Development Council, assisting Exelon in maintaining the Nuclear Power Station, and providing the necessary services to the entire County to meet basic needs.
I’m opposed to the Alta Farms II project, simply because the developer has not sufficiently addressed the issues that have been brought forth at all the discussions over the past 2 years. I believe the major fault is the responsibility of the County Board by failing to include in our zoning ordinance the basic requirements that exist all over our nation, such as Height, Set Backs, Noise, Shadow Flicker, Decommission, Complaint Resolution, Lighting, Inference with Doppler Radar, Ground Water issues, and Draining Issues. I believe these should all be addressed, then, the constituents would all have ample feedback as to the acceptance.
Aaron Kammeyer, Republican
County Board District A (challenger)
My name is Aaron Kammeyer I am resident of Clinton IL I will be running as a Republican candidate for a county board seat in District A in the upcoming 2020 Primary election. I have lived in DeWitt county for 25+ years and have had the privilege to volunteer and serve in various leadership capacities in a number of government and community organizations. My most recent opportunity has been my appointment to the city owned hospital, Warner Hospital and Health Services, serving as Board President the past five years. While serving on the board, we have accomplished a lot of great things through our partnership with City Council and leadership collaboration between the board and Hospitals Executive team. Some of the outcomes are things such as our significant transformations in our financial stability, boasting positive cash flow, the physical facilities and investment in a modernized IT infrastructure.
I have been actively involved in community and civic organizations just about my entire life. In my day to day job, I am Architect/Solution Designer in a large organization. I am good at this work and in a lot of the other roles I have been involved civically, because its in my nature to continuously dig in and analyze issues, identify risk or concerns and then design and implement solutions to solve this problems. There is tremendous opportunities in the DeWitt County government for self-improvement and I feel that I am up for the challenge.
As an elected official you become a servant leader and as such you are the voice for all residents. As such, you are obligated to conduct business and make decisions based on the will of your residents.
There are a number of issues in our county, but I would also say most of them are not unique to just DeWitt County. I’ts the same challenges and issues that many rural communities face.
We need to figure out how to manage a responsible budget that favors the needs vs wants.
We need to start collaborating with our communities and our civic groups and operate on a mindset of inclusivity rather exclusivity. The sum of all the groups and individuals always make a better team than one individual.
What are we going to do with the marina.. Tremendous opportunity to capitalize on an asset we already own and conjunction with the abundant recreation opportunities we have in our county. The recreation industry is untapped resource that Illinois misses the mark on greatly in comparison to other neighboring states.
Modernization of our ordinances and policies to ensure they are relevant in todays world and implementing continuous improvement plans to ensure that we do not allow the to grow stale.
In short I do not feel that the proposed wind farm is the right fit for Dewitt County. I do not feel that the whole of the residents of DeWitt County concerns have been taken into consideration, and even as proposed compromises have been submitted based on industry standards, they have not been implemented. This issue alone, is a prime example of an elected officials obligation to act accordingly based on the will of the people.
Megan Myers, Republican
County Board District C (challenger)
My husband Kevin and I moved to Clinton with our children (Tallon, Tamsin & Kayla) in 2003. We were drawn here by the rural character, relaxed atmosphere and better school district. I have grown to love DeWitt County.
In my professional career I work in operations support for a large agribusiness. I provide data analysis of various plant metrics to assist in the implementation of best practices and performance improvements.
At home I’ve had the privilege of serving on the 4-H Foundation Board and am currently a board member on the Clinton Community Educational Foundation, serving on the Dual Credit and Finance committees. I’m actively involved in securing outside funding for STEM projects in our schools.
I am running for county board because I believe we each have a responsibility to serve our communities as we are able. Each of us has something to offer and by being the voice of the residents in District C I hope to bring their diversity of thought and collective knowledge to a position on the board.
My philosophy is that county government should do more than just provide the necessary services required by the state and federal mandates. The county board must be a good steward of the public’s tax dollars, balancing the needs and desires of the residents with the resources available. I believe there is also a responsibility to actively work with our residents, other governing bodies and community organizations, such as the DeWitt County Development Council, to grow our community, making sure any growth is consistent with protecting our rural character and quality of life.
We have a new comprehensive plan to guide development but there needs to be a long-term vision for our county. We need a strategic plan and a unifying vision that our community can buy into and work together to attain. Do we want to be a bedroom community, do we want to have the next large distribution warehouse? We do not have the resources to chase everything, so we need to decide on our vision. We need to actively support the nuclear power plant and find ways to better leverage the recreation opportunities in the county.
I do not support this project. After two attempts the developer has failed to meet the criteria required for our RPC or ZBA to recommend this project. Both special use permit applications failed to adequately address key issues that would negatively impact those in the footprint. The most recent application is in clear violation of our ordinance and the developer has openly chosen not to correct those defects. Most importantly, the majority of residents that I have spoken with in District C over the past month do not support this project. Whether or not I could support a future project would be determined by the will of the constituents as it is their voice that matters.
David Newberg, Republican
County Board Distict C (incumbent)
Forty-four years ago, I married life-long DeWitt County resident, Joni Blue, and moved to DeWitt County. Joni and I raised our family here on the family farm. Our son, Andrew, and his wife, Jill are raising their family here in Clinton and our daughter, Suzy, and her husband, Chris, live in Morris. I have served 14 years on the county board, the last six as Chairman.
It has truly been my honor to serve the people of DeWitt County. There were some unique challenges from 2012 to 2014, but in December of 2014 the leadership of the board changed. This led to stabilized tax rates, increased morale, and balanced budgets. The entire board worked very hard to earn back the support and trust of our community, and it was a rewarding process of which to be apart.
County government exists to serve the residents of this community and ensure their health, safety and overall welfare are at the forefront of our priorities. Over the last six years we have proven we can rise above partisan politics to solve real issues for our county and do it together. I am proud of our bipartisan commitment, and I believe we serve as a positive example to other counties throughout Illinois.
Our priorities continue to be balanced budgets, stable tax rates and excellent services for our residents. An effective and efficient government is what the people of DeWitt County deserve. We will negotiate a new property tax agreement with Clinton Power Station, be open to new development in the county, stay on top of a rising minimum wage, and will continually navigate increasing met unfunded mandates from our State government.
Wind farm development in the county is a real possibility. As with all new developments, if they meet the requirements as written in our ordnance they deserve a fair process. I voted to approve the special use permit for the development one year ago. This issue is now back in front of this board. I will be prepared to make a fair and knowledgeable decision when it comes before the full board
Thank you for allowing me to serve our county.
Scott Nimmo, Democrat
County Board District C (incumbent)
My Name is Scott Nimmo, I have been a resident of Dewitt County and lived in Clinton for 45 years. I moved to Clinton in 1975 shortly after the construction of the Nuclear Power Plant started. I have been married for 33 years to a great woman and have 2 beautiful daughters and 2 grandchildren.I have been a proud Union member of the Cement Masons for 42 years. I have been able to work on many projects in Dewitt County and surrounding cities. I also was given the chance to represent my Union members as their President and Business Representative for the last 15 years
I have been on the county Board for the last 4 years and served for a brief time to fill in for a member that retired. With the current Board and the previous Board members that I have worked with, I have learned a lot of valuable knowledge of the inner workings of the County and its needs. I feel that we as the Board have proven to be able to make the hard decisions that have to be made to insure that Dewitt County will stay financially sound and provide the necessary services that the people of Dewitt County expect and deserve.
I feel the current methods the county Board has in place with the different committees that members are assigned to and meet monthly to address the issues helps the County Board to run more efficiently. It allows the committees to look at the issues in more detail, so the Full Board can make the best decisions for the people of Dewitt County. I also think that anyone that is chosen to serve in government should hold themselves to the highest standards, be honest, be dedicated, be a good listener and devote the time necessary to address all of the issues that we face.
The biggest issues are keeping taxes low, making sure the County has the funds to provide essential Services. Making sure we have good law enforcement, Ambulance services, Emergency service, ECT. Taking care of our infrastructure and attracting new businesses and expanding current businesses.
I have been on record supporting Green energy and wind projects are one of many options. I know there have been many public meetings on wind farms and I am currently reading through.The many-many hours of transcripts of the meetings. I will look at ALL of the new and old. Information that was provided to me as a County Board member. I will make me decision after carefully looking through all of the facts and Concerns. I know this is a very.
Important issue for the County and not to be taken lightly. I feel that possibly some of the candidates are one issue candidates and there are many, many more important issues that Dewitt County faces in our future.
Steve Oswald, Republican
County Board District C (challenger)
My wife Mystee and I moved to Clinton in 2001. We have two children, Allison and Michael who both grew up here. We were drawn to DeWitt County by its small town feel, good schools, low taxes and central location between Bloomington and Decatur. Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to meet some great people through volunteer opportunities. I was a coach and also served on the Clinton Youth Baseball board as Vice President. I have also volunteered as a coach with Clinton Travel baseball and have assisted with various fundraisers. I am currently serving on the CUSD 15 school board.
I have 25 years’ experience in the insurance and financial services industry. I spent seven years in management where I not only managed people, but managed budgets that ranged from $5M to $17M. In my current role, I am responsible for a roughly $3M budget and work with employees at all levels, including Executives. I understand the importance of collaboration, fiscal responsibility and process improvement and will bring a focus on those areas to the county board.
I want to be elected to the county board because I want to help engage county residents and the county board in working together to drive growth in DeWitt County, protect our rural character and maintain our low property and sales tax rates. We are situated in an ideal location for growth and have a lot to offer. DeWitt County, like the rest of Illinois, has been losing population over the past decade. With our low property taxes, low sales taxes and all the great local businesses we have to offer along with great schools, I feel we should be attracting more individuals to this county.
The government’s role at every level is to serve and protect the residents while doing so in a financially responsible manner. We must keep in mind that nothing is free and every dollar we spend comes from the taxpayer’s pockets which means we need to make sure we are doing things in the most efficient, effective manner possible.
I think two of the biggest issues we are facing is population loss and finances. The state puts a great burden on local governments by passing the increased minimum wage. If we continue to lose residents, that places a higher burden on residents that remain. If we can turn the corner and attract more people to come to DeWitt County that would help us generate additional revenues, via property and sales tax, to help cover some of the increase in costs that come along with the wage increase. We cannot just automatically turn to tax increases as a solution or that will just continue to drive people out of the county and state in general.
I am against the current Alta Farms II wind farm for several reasons. First, their SUP application is not complete as they claim. One example is how Tradewind refused to provide a third party engineer that is agreed upon by the County Board to provide a decommissioning plan. That’s a requirement for a special use permit and is crucial to ensure any shortfalls in estimates won’t fall back on the taxpayer’s of this county. Secondly, if we allow an incomplete application to pass we are setting a precedent that will allow other county residents or businesses to not follow our ordinances and processes. Large corporations should not receive special treatment. Finally, I’ve done my own research and have sat through many of the meetings and public hearings over the past few years and there are too many unknowns in terms of health impacts. Many studies suggest that the infrasound caused by turbines can travel 4-5 miles and have health impacts ranging from migraines to heart issues. This is not something I take lightly as we need to make sure we are looking out for our residents well-being.
Additionally, there are too many potential negative environmental impacts (Mahomet aquifer, radar interference, bat and other bird deaths) that offset any potential benefit that could come from these “farms.” I believe we need to protect our rural character as called for in the County’s Comprehensive Plan and in my opinion wind developments do not meet the criteria of protecting our rural character.
Jamie Prestegaard, Republican
DeWitt County Board District A (challenger)
I have called rural Waynesville my home since 2005. My wife Amy and I have three children. I grew up on a northern Illinois grain and livestock farm; agriculture is my passion. I graduated from the University of Illinois in 1998 with a degree in Ag Economics. For the past 15 years, I have been employed as a commodity analyst for The Maschhoffs LLC, a family-owned swine production business.
I believe serving your community is important. After moving to Waynesville, I chose to become more involved with the local community. In 2009, I became a trustee for Waynesville Township and currently serve as its township clerk. With having ten years of township government experience under my belt, I would like to expand my role of community service by representing District A on the county board.
I believe the primary function of government is to balance the needs and wants of its constituents. This includes appropriating necessary funds to develop a balanced budget, while being fiscally responsible. Also providing public safety to all county residents is critical. In addition, we need to ensure all county departments have the necessary resources in order to perform their duties.
Wind and solar projects will be issues the county will face in the near term. The county needs to have in place up-to-date ordinances and a plan to keep those ordinances current as that technology changes over time. There is uncertainty with the future of nuclear energy production in our county. The county needs to make and act on an agenda to keep the Clinton Power Station running past 2026. Finally, we need to utilize our county’s comprehensive plan to identify opportunities of economic growth that highlights what DeWitt County has to offer.
I am not supportive of the current Alta Farms II project as I believe there are missing pieces to their SUP application. Supporting a wind project in the future would require stricter wind energy ordinances that thoroughly protect non-participating landowners in our county.
Camille Redman, Democrat
DeWitt County District A (incumbent)
I am a lifelong resident of DeWitt County graduating from Clinton Community High School. My husband Terry and I have three children and two grandchildren who are the 9th generation in this county. I have devoted my entire adult years volunteering for different organizations and causes. I am a member and past president of the Clinton American Legion Auxiliary and a board member of the DeWitt County Museum.
When I decided to run for County Board 10 years ago, the purpose was to make a difference for my children and grandchildren. Just to name a few improvements, a new ambulance service was created, a much-needed Animal Shelter was built, and improvements to the Clinton Marina were projects that were accomplished. I will continue to help move the County forward.
To give the tax payers the best basic services they deserve for the tax dollars they pay. Government is not a business, but we always want to give the taxpayers the most bang for their buck while improving their quality of life and keeping taxes as low as possible.
We need to continue to keep the lines of communication open between the Clinton Power Station’s management and the legislators in Springfield. In order to keep our taxes as low as possible, we have to work with Springfield as we did in 2016 to keep the power station in operation. We also need to encourage more businesses to look to DeWitt County as a viable option for locating. We must have more good paying jobs and property taxes as the power station depreciates.
As the Chairperson of the Finance Committee, I have a unique insight into the funding of our County services. I am very concerned with the future of our County and our schools should the Clinton Power Station close without any new sources of tax revenue. It’s amazing that people express their opinions on how we should operate our budget when they have absolutely no knowledge of our finances. Our budget is open to the public and an outside auditor audits the County yearly. Once you have an understanding of the budget and look at all the counties around us with wind farms, you soon realize why they are developing wind energy as fast as possible. Surrounding counties, with universities, colleges, professors and hundreds of doctors, have embraced wind energy for the millions of dollars in tax revenue and the hundreds of good paying construction jobs. Unfortunately, there are those that spread false and misleading information to stop progress. If you think back over the years, how many times can DeWitt County pass on an opportunity before opportunity doesn’t come knocking anymore.
Cole Ritter, Republican
DeWitt County Board District A (incumbent)
My name is Cole Ritter, and my wonderful wife Liz and I are blessed to be the parents of an amazing son. DeWitt County has been my home my entire life, and it will continue to be for decades to come. My father owns a plumbing business in Clinton, and by following in his footsteps I hope to continue the legacy graciously. My interests are golfing, fishing with my son, going to local parks with my family, attending benefits that support various DeWitt County organizations, and enjoying all Clinton Lake has to offer.
Throughout my time on the board, I have met so many wonderful people that also call DeWitt County “home”. I care about the citizens and future of DeWitt County, and it is for this reason that I would like to be re-elected. Through common sense leadership and decision making today, we can make DeWitt County stronger tomorrow. I am proud of what has been accomplished in DeWitt County in the past, and would be proud to continue to represent DeWitt County in the future.
My philosophy about government is the same as in sports, there is no “I” in “TEAM”. Working together, as a united board, is how DeWitt County can grow. Government to me means working for the citizens and utilizing assets, while realizing the need for checks and balances on all stages of leadership.
Maintaining a low property tax rate, supporting K-12 education, promoting local economic growth, and keeping Dewitt County compliant with new legislation coming from Springfield while at the same time preserving our quality of life. This is why it’s so important to have elected officials that can work together for the betterment of our county and its citizens.
The Alta Farms project is just ONE of the big issues facing DeWitt County right now. Another looming issue is the longevity of the Clinton Power Station, and the potential loss of jobs and revenue the county will face. With any topic that affects so many people, it is important that board members educate themselves while also listening to both sides of the issue.
Lance Reece, Democrat
County Board District A (incumbent)
I am a retired electrician. The last eight years of my career were spent as the Business Manager-Financial Secretary for I.B.E.W. #197. While serving in that capacity I was a Trustee on a billion dollar Health and Welfare-Pension plan. I was on the Appeals Committee, the Professional Review Committee, and the Steering Committee for the Health and Welfare Plan. I served on the Investment Committee for the Pension Plan and was asked to be on the Board of Directors overseeing both of the funds, but had to decline because of my impending retirement.
I am a member of the Warner Hospital and Health Services Foundation Board and enjoy spending time selling bingo cards, cooking pork chop sandwiches, and raising funds to support the hospital. I have assisted organizations during the Apple and Pork festival, and look forward to meeting and talking to interesting people each year. Since moving to DeWitt County I discovered that it is a comfortable place to live. I have often told my wife, who was raised here, and known then as Pat Riegel, that the decision to move to DeWitt County was one of the best we have ever made.
Many have asked the question, why do you want to put up with the aggravation and the hassle? I don’t believe that statement is true. If you can appreciate the fact that everyone has something which they consider important it is not an aggravation or a hassle. It means that they are looking for help or an answer to what is bothering them. It is gratifying to be able to assist them and one of the most fulfilling parts of the job. Being able to make a contribution for the betterment of the citizens is the main reason. I believe that I have the ability to look at all sides of an issue and make a fair and unbiased judgement. Something which is extremely important as a member of the Board.
County government should strive to ensure that all citizens have a secure and comfortable environment to live in. Medical services, law enforcement, education, and properly maintained infrastructure are a few of the basic services residents should expect. Government should also be reliable stewards of the Counties finances. Being prudent with expenditures, while getting the best value for the dollars spent, is an expectation which should be met at all times.
The issue most important moving forward will certainly be the fate of the Excelon plant and the impact it will have on the Counties finances and residents. However there are other items which will have to be addressed such as ambulance service for the residents of Farmer City who reside in its fire protection district, and getting the Marina into a position that it is a destination once again. Making certain that the budget is balanced, while meeting all the new mandates and laws which may be passed, and other issues that require immediate attention. Of course, over a period of four years there are going to be other matters which will pop up demanding attention, and will have to be addressed by prioritizing them as they emerge.
I truly don’t have a “position” on the wind farm. I can see both sides of the discussion. However, in my first contact with a resident about this I was asked if it was only about the finances. My reply was, no it wasn’t, it is also about quality of life. I still believe that today. Over the past two plus years of conversation about this it occurred to me that finances and quality of life are not mutually exclusive but mutually inclusive. You cannot have quality of life, without the finances to support it. Once again the basic services expected by residents in DeWitt County come with a price. Ambulance service, law enforcement, education, and infrastructure all cost. If/when the power plant closes, without something to replace the lost revenue, these services will certainly have to be downsized to fit the budget. It could also mean the County wouldn’t be able to maintain the staff it has now. That may result in less access to those people you might need to contact. County government does not have a product it can increase in price to meet the loss. The only two ways I’m aware of to generate revenue for the County is increasing taxes and business development. No one I know is in favor of increasing taxes, and development will be difficult if a business has to fight to get approval when it wants to come into DeWitt County. Creating a hostile environment for development when it shows up is not helpful! Resisting change is not beneficial for the County. This development will not replace all the revenue we could lose. To replace all of the revenue lost will require more businesses to locate here. Making them welcome and helping them to become producing members of DeWitt County is important!
Frederick “Jay” Wickenhauser, Republican
DeWitt County Board District C (incumbent)
I am a lifelong resident of DeWitt County. I was raised in Wapella and attended public school there from kindergarten to graduation. I am married to my wife, Beth, who is a principal with the Clinton School District and we have one adult daughter, Jacey, who is a graduate assistant at Purdue University. I have worked for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources for 25 years, currently serving at Weldon Springs Park. We are members of First Christian Church, The Clinton Country Club and the Eagles.
I am currently serving on the board and am seeking re-election, because although we have accomplished a lot in the past four years, there are still things to be done to improve the county. For example, I am currently serving as the chairman of the marina committee and we have been working diligently to repair and upgrade the marina property. Dock work, breakwater work and cleaning up the entire marina area have been recent ongoing projects. I want to continue to serve the community in this capacity to maintain the county services we have in place and keep the county fiscally sound.
I believe that the role of government is to provide for the general interest of the community (county) as a whole. Maintaining and developing community services, infrastructure and economic development are responsibilities of the local county board. The governing body also needs to be a good steward of the tax dollars collected and serve with integrity across all areas of need within the county.
The biggest issue I see for the county as a whole is the length of time the power plant will be online, which directly impacts the revenue the county has for services and upkeep of current county facilities and departments. To counter any lost revenue that would occur should the powerplant close, we need to be working to keep current businesses open and be seeking new opportunities for revenue to come into the county. By expanding business revenue, we decrease the burden of taxes on individuals, and are able to maintain needed services.
My stand on the wind farms is that it is an additional source of revenue for the county and taxing entities within the county. As I stated in question 4, when we have the opportunity to increase revenue and support local business, we need to do that for the good of the community and for its future residents. Tradewinds has publicly agreed to partner with Arcosa in manufacturing 20 percent of the components of the proposed wind farm. With the recent closing of Miller Container and the jobs lost there, we need to be proactive in supporting and keeping businesses in DeWitt County. If jobs are unavailable due to continued loss of manufacturing, then the overall population of the county will be impacted also. Every family that leaves DeWitt County for jobs elsewhere affects the level and quality of services provided county wide.