City Council sees consistency through April 4 election

Tuscola’s City Council will continue to make progress for the city with familiar faces at the helm; however, one long-time alderman will step down from service after decades at City Hall.

City Councilman Boyd Henderson has chosen to sit out of the April 4 Consolidated election after serving on the council for a number of years, first as clerk followed by his election to the seat of city alderman for Ward 3. To take Henderson’s seat, Troy Rund has placed his name on the ballot.

Incumbents retaining their seats will be Mayor Dan Kleiss; Clerk Beth Leamon; and Alderman Scott Day-Ward 2, Tim Hoey-Ward 4, Alan Shoemaker-Ward 1, and Terra Waldrop, Ward 2.

There is no opposition in this race.

Name: Dan Kleiss
Age: 60
Family: Amy – wife and two adult children, Cory, his wife Kristin, their daughter Ava and son Grayson, Jessie Kleiss Hanner and her husband Dale (Bo) Hanner
Area of representation: Mayor, City of Tuscola

Educational/professional background:
Graduate of TCHS, Class of 1975, Employed at Cabot Corporation for the last 41 years and currently the Manager of Human Resources for the Tuscola, Illinois and Midland, Mich., facilities.

Civic involvement:
Member of Forty Martyrs Catholic Church, President, Tuscola Community Foundation, President of Illinois Tax Increment Association.

How long have you been in this position?
Since December 1988.

What prompted you to run for this office again?
I still enjoy trying to improve life in and around Tuscola. I am a lifelong resident of Tuscola and want very much to be a positive influence for the good of our community.

What qualifications/attributes do you feel you bring to this position?
I consider myself an optimist and prefer to promote positive influence versus negative. Probably my biggest attribute is the ability to set aside personal feelings and concentrate on what is good for the City of Tuscola as a whole. I believe I have the ability to put groups of people together to help structure deals that normally would not get accomplished without the help of many. I feel I have very good working relationship with our School, Township and County Officials, which is important for the betterment of the entire area.

What do you feel are the greatest challenges the city is facing right now? Do you have any thoughts as to how they could be addressed?
I think it is always a challenge to continue to provide the kind of services and opportunities for our community and to try and keep our taxes a reasonable rate for those services. So it is important to be ready to self-promote the community to many not only in the county but state and nationwide.

What do you see as the greatest strengths of the city?
We have very good resources to help us promote Tuscola, natural gas pipelines, access to rail, and we also have a very good reputation with developers of being able to move quickly and recognized as a City that wants to work with people and not against. We have very good people in our city that are willing to step forward whenever called upon to apply their skills to whatever we might be working on.

Name: Elizabeth ‘Beth’ Leamon
Age: 65
Family: Spouse – John; three adult children
Area of representation: Tuscola City Clerk

Educational/professional background: Office Administrator in the College of Business, University of Illinois

Civic involvement:

How long have you been in this position? What prompted you to run for this office again?
28 years

What qualifications/attributes do you feel you bring to this position?
Administrative skills, communication, confidentiality

What do you feel are the greatest challenges the city is facing right now? Do you have any thoughts as to how they could be addressed?
Attracting and retaining quality businesses

What do you see as the greatest strengths of the city?
The residents and city staff

Name: Scott Day
Age: 52
Family: wife, Kirsten. Son, Griffin, 20; daughter, Morgan, 17; son, Mason, 14.
Area of representation: Ward 2

Educational/professional background:
BA Journalism, EIU, 93. Tuscola High School, 83.
Production scheduler, Cabot Corporation

Civic involvement:
I was involved in Ambucs for several years in the 90s. Coached and on the Tuscom Little League board for several years.

How long have you been in this position? What prompted you to run for this office again?
I was appointed in Sept. 2014 to fill Alderman Tim Seip’s Ward 2 position after he moved out of town. I continue to run because I enjoy contributing to the function of our city government.

What qualifications/attributes do you feel you bring to this position?
As a resident since ’82 I obviously want to see our city grow, adapt and thrive. I attended every council meeting from late ’89 thru ’94 as a reporter for the Tuscola Review and gained a unique perspective as our council tackled some major projects during that time; water pipeline, mall, golf course. It was an exciting and somewhat controversial time. I’ve been here awhile and seen a lot of changes; I like to think I can contribute a common-sense voice as someone with experience who wants what’s best for all residents of Tuscola. Politically I lean to the conservative side and generally believe in less government if possible.

What do you feel are the greatest challenges the city is facing right now? Do you have any thoughts as to how they could be addressed?
Financial position/strength will always drive a city’s ability to provide its citizens with quality infrastructure and services. Economic development is the backbone of that, and it has always been a challenge to maintain our businesses and recruit new ones. Those challenges are being tackled every day behind the scenes by city staff and others who work to keep what we have and recruit others. The terrible financial condition of our state is something that will continue to be a concern for Tuscola; especially our schools. How can they be addressed? We have to continue to give our full-time staff the resources and support they need—financially and otherwise–to retain and recruit quality business and industry.

What do you see as the greatest strengths of the city?
From an economic development standpoint, the city’s location relative to rail, highway, and utility access is an advantage we have over other cities. During my adult life our city government has really been progressive to stay ahead of pitfalls, at least since the 80’s with the brilliant move to be a part of TIF. That decision may have had as much or more impact on the economic viability of Tuscola as any in history—at least the last 65 years or so–and we continue to reap the benefits today. We’ve been lucky to have continuity for many years in key city positions; I think that’s important. Our full-time city staff is committed, competent and invested. I don’t think the value of that can be overstated. Our school system continues to be a strength despite these historically difficult times; that’s huge. Lastly, Tuscola’s ability to adapt to changes outside its control may be its biggest strength. I think being proactive rather than reactive is something our town has demonstrated over the last 30 years or so.

Name: Tim Hoey
Age: 63
Family: Wife–LuAnne, Son Wade and his wife Yen and granddaughter Addison, daughter Kelsi and her husband Garrison Stenger
Area of representation: Alderman Ward 4

Educational/professional background:
High school graduate and veteran of the US Marine Corps. Retired from 30 years of service with US Postal Service

Civic involvement:

How long have you been in this position? What prompted you to run for this office again?
I’ve served in this position for 20 years total–1991-2003 and 2009 to present.

What qualifications/attributes do you feel you bring to this position?
After 20 years I’m familiar with how city government works and enjoy working with Mayor Dan Kleiss and the city council.

What do you feel are the greatest challenges the city/township is facing right now? Do you have any thoughts as to how they could be addressed? What do you see as the greatest strengths of the city/township?
The greatest challenge the city is facing now is not knowing how the state budget will affect municipalities. However, the greatest strengths of the city are the excellent services–police, fire, and service led by Craig Hastings, Brian Moody, and Denny Cruzan–and the great city staff led by Drew Hoel and Alta Long.

Name: Troy M. Rund
Age: 49
Family: I married my high school sweetheart, Kimberly Wax, and this past December we celebrated 25 years of marriage. We have two daughters, Elizabeth and Katherine, who are both studying at Parkland College and will finish their education at SIUE.
Area of representation: Ward 3

Educational/professional background:
Associates Degree from Parkland College in Computer and Electronics
Bachelor’s degree from Eastern Illinois University in Industrial Technology
I have worked as Chief Engineer and Engineering Manager at two international companies in the automotive and agricultural industries. Currently, I am a Senior Manufacturing Engineer at Master Brand Cabinets in Arthur.

Civic involvement:
My civic involvement has revolved around my children with coaching biddy ball and T-ball.

What prompted you to run for this office?
Being involved in civic duties has been something I have always wanted to do, but until recently my career has restricted my time to do so. Last fall, Boyd Henderson told my wife and me that he would not be running for city council again, and if I was interested, it would be a good opportunity to serve the community.

What qualifications/attributes do you feel you bring to this position?
During my career, I managed extensive projects, which required me to evaluate issues and opportunities from many different views while maintaining safety, budgets, and effectiveness. City council functions are similar, and my skills in negotiation, fiscal responsibility, public relations, and decision making are attributes well suited for membership on the council.

What do you feel are the greatest challenges the city is facing right now? Do you have any thoughts as to how they could be addressed? What do you see as the greatest strengths of the city?
The challenge of growth is something the city is facing. As industry comes to our area, we face the challenge to maintain Tuscola’s identity while not missing opportunities for growth. Strong city leadership and clear communication are important to ensure Tuscola’s core values are maintained.

Some of Tuscola’s strengths are its location, which has brought in companies like Syngenta, Cargill, and Outlets of Tuscola. Locally owned shops and restaurants, good schools, and the unity among churches make Tuscola a good place to visit and an even better place to live. But the true strength of Tuscola lies in its citizens. Tuscola is full of good people, with upstanding character, who truly care about their neighbors. It would be my honor to serve as their representative on the city council.

Name: Alan R. Shoemaker
Age: 61
Family:
Marci (Hausman) Shoemaker has been my wife for over 40 fantastic years. I also have two daughters, Stacey Patterson and husband Jason with grandsons Trenton and Zachary of Tuscola; and Adrienne Umbarger and husband Matt with grandsons Logan, Landon and granddaughter Taytum of St. Joseph.
Area of representation: Ward 1

Educational/professional background:
I am a TCHS graduate of 1974, and I have earned various mining and business certifications from the State of Illinois. My background is very simple, and I have been blessed with a career that I love to be a part of. I started as a union coal miner in 1976 at Murdock, Illinois. I held various leadership roles within the union for 10 years. In 1986, I was given an opportunity to move into mine management which took our family from central Illinois to southern Illinois where I worked in various levels of management in the coal industry until 1995. I decided to leave the coal mines because of the new regulations on the coal industry to continue my career. So our family moved to northern Illinois where I worked in the rock industry where my father worked for over 35 years. I was moved into upper levels of management that gave our family a chance to come back to the Tuscola area in 2000. Although I traveled often, we were elated to move back to Tuscola after 15 years to be closer to family and friends. In 2007, I accepted an opportunity to come to work for Tuscola Stone Company. I jumped on that opportunity to work close to home again. I feel very blessed, and even honored to be the General Manager for TSC. This business is where it all started for me. My father moved us to Tuscola from Lafayette, Ind., in 1972, because he was the first salesman for this company when they opened this mine. So Tuscola means a lot to me. I got my education, I met my wife, started my family, and started a lifelong career from this town. What a lucky guy I am!

Civic involvement:
I am a past president of the Tuscola Rotary, Tuscola Kiwanis, and the Iron Horse Homeowners Association. I am a member of the Forty Martyrs Church, Tuscola Kiwanis, Tuscola Rotary, Tuscola Community Foundation, TCHS Alumni Association, Douglas County Museum, Moose, Pheasants Forever, Northern Wild Turkey Federation, and Ducks Unlimited. I was also a volunteer for the Tuscola Harvest Fest for years. In addition, I also volunteer as that chubby guy in the red suit around the holidays for individuals and nursing homes!
My civic career includes my involvement in the Illinois Association of Aggregate Producers (IAAP) where I am currently a member of the Board of Directors, past Chairman of the Safety Committee, current member of the Legislative, Ag-lime and Public Education Committee.

How long have you been in this position? What prompted you to run for this office again?
This is my 7th year as an Alderman. I was originally appointed in 2010 to fill a vacancy. I wanted to put my name in the hat and try to help our city any way that I could. This city has given me a lot, so I wanted to give back! I loved the experience so much that I have continued to work in this position since then. I have also held positions on the Park and Recreation and Water committees for short periods of time. I have been a member of the TIF committee for the past 5 years or so and I love to serve on this committee.

What qualifications/attributes do you feel you bring to this position?
I think my qualification is my business background. In my twenties I operated and managed my own Top 40 band for over eight years in this area. Now my wife and I own and manage a small rental property company for about 10 years now in addition to my job as GM for Tuscola Stone Co. So managing business has been in my blood my whole life.
Operating a city is similar to a business. Although we do not operate to earn a profit, we have to be good stewards of the tax payer money to manage revenues, expenditures, budgets, assets, capital investment, and operating cost efficiently.
In my business career I have struggled, and I have been successful, but I have always learned along the way. I got my degree from the University of “Hard Knocks.”
I also think my experiences in working on committees and Board of Directors for multiple clubs and associations has educated me on successful productivity with groups of people. In many cases I was in a leadership role in the clubs and committees. That experience has provided me the opportunity to provide leadership to improve the results by networking with people.
I feel my attributes are being a good listener, processing information, networking, result oriented and my work ethic. I almost always have an opinion to share and encourage feedback. I strive to get the work done. I love to debate and be challenged and work with people to find solutions. I am always striving to play my part to attain results and be productive.

What do you feel are the greatest challenges the city is facing right now? Do you have any thoughts as to how they could be addressed?
Obviously the financial health of our state gives me concern of the unknown impact on our city related to the funding. We have all heard the statistics and how our state is in poor shape. So we need to look at what we can do locally. I do not have a “silver bullet” idea for the state. Wish I did!
But I feel that the biggest challenge we have locally is business growth that connects our entire city as a destination location that will benefit the downtown with the Rt. 36 corridor and benefit our citizens. More growth could help lower our taxes. First, we need to help sustain growth of our current businesses and find companies that will come to our community and complement each other. We have been successful in the retail sector, but I see some signals that give me concern. I think a focus on manufacturing growth could be more sustainable and would complement retail business. This takes a great initiative and persistence. We don’t need to just look at large companies that employ hundreds of people. I’ll take it! But I would also like to see small manufacturing companies with less than 50 employees as a start.
We have limited resources working on this at this time, and they are working as hard as they can with what they have right now. There is no lack of effort, but increasing the team may be an answer. I would like to begin budget consideration to increase the resources to step up our efforts. This will become even more difficult as the TIF programs sunset in our community. A healthy business community in a small town is a major part of what makes a small town a comfortable and great place to live.

What do you see as the greatest strengths of the city?
I think there are several strengths:
Logistically- our location and infrastructure is a real strength. We have a great location, close proximity to interstate, rail and air travel. We are close to larger cities with easy access. We have abundant natural resources with high quality soil for farming many types of crops that are manufactured into various products. We have mining for minerals that service infrastructure and agriculture. Natural gas that support our manufacturing plants and community. Plus the potential of wind power in our area.
Inside the city, I believe our local government manages our city very well. I also like to think of our community as a great safe place to raise a family. We have good schools, churches, health clinics, parks, pool, athletic facilities, and a variety of restaurants and retail that provide most of our needs. I am optimistic that all of these strengths will maintain our community and provide growth potential for years to come.

Name: Terra R. Waldrop
Age: 41
Family: Matthew Waldrop and I were married in 2006 in Savannah, Ga., and had our son Trey in 2008. We moved to Tuscola in July of 2013.
Area of representation: Ward 2

Educational/professional background:
I was born and raised in Springfield. I attended high school at Chatham Glenwood, graduated in 1994. I worked in retail management for 9 years and then worked in the banking and financial industry for 13 years. When we moved to Tuscola I decided to take a break from the typical 9-5 work life and spend more time with our son. I went back to school at Parkland College, graduated in 2015. I am currently employed with the Tuscola School District as a teacher aide at North Ward Elementary and I love working with children.

Civic involvement: During my 13 years of working in the banking field I became very involved in the Springfield community. I was a member of the Chamber of Commerce, a member of the Young Springfield Professional Network, and treasurer of the Springfield Jaycees. Once my son started attending preschool I became treasurer for the PTO at the Early Learning Center, Springfield School District #186. When we moved to Tuscola I quickly became involved in North Ward PTO, serving as treasurer. I have served 4 years and my position will end in May. I am also serving in my 3rd year as secretary of Tuscom Little League.

How long have you been in this position? What prompted you to run for this office again?
I have only been on city council since Oct. 11, 2017, but it is something truly important to me. I believe it is important to be involved in your community and care about what happens in order to make a difference. I like having a vote and representing the people in my ward. I’m running for the next term in order to continue my involvement and passion for our town.

What qualifications/attributes do you feel you bring to this position?
I have always had an interest in politics and feel as though I bring an outside perspective. Although I’ve only lived here three years, Tuscola has become my home, and I’m excited to be part of city council efforts of making decisions to improve our community.

What do you feel are the greatest challenges the city is facing right now? Do you have any thoughts as to how they could be addressed?
I do not see any major challenges, just the continuation for improvement in our growing community.

What do you see as the greatest strengths of the city?
We have strong leadership in our city and I would like to continue growing in my city council position. We have a great deal of knowledge among all of our leaders. I appreciate that each of our city council people has a voice, and they are heard with a great deal of respect.