UPDATED: Graham announces retirement at end of term

Brooklyn Cardona served as Mayor for the Day. She spent time with the O'Fallon Police and Fire Departments as well as Mayor Gary Graham. Brooklyn's mother is Alderwoman Courtney Marsh. (O'Fallon Weekly Photo by Nick Miller)

Brooklyn Cardona served as Mayor for the Day. She spent time with the O’Fallon Police and Fire Departments as well as Mayor Gary Graham. Brooklyn’s mother is Alderwoman Courtney Marsh.
(O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Nick Miller)

O’FALLON – After 20 years, Mayor Gary Graham has decided to head off into the sunset.

In a letter released to the public on November 22, Graham reflected on his two decades of service to O’Fallon. He made reference to the significant growth O’Fallon has experienced that has transformed the community from a small farming community to one of the largest cities in the metro east.

“Over the lat two decades, O’Fallon has grown from a farming community of 15,000 residents to a city of over 32,000 that is now one of the top five cities in the St. Louis region that families and businesses are choosing to call home,” Graham said. “The fact is, we have transformed our city from a one stop light town with gravel roads to a gleaming city on the hill. Progress continues to this day, with the completion of the healthcare highway anchored by St. Elizabeth’s Hospital.”

Graham went on to say how proud he was that developers were choosing to come to O’Fallon despite the state’s financial shape and that while the state’s bond rating was going down, O’Fallon held a AA plus, which is one of the highest awarded by Standard and Poor’s.

Graham also praised the city staff.

“We took steps to remove politics from the hiring process and hired professionals to run and manage our city, but more importantly manage our tax dollars to maximize results without raising the city’s portion of our property taxes,” Graham said. “I am proud of our City Staff and the professionals that have worked hard to make O’Fallon what it is today, from our Parks and Recreation Department to our Economic and Community Development Office to our Finance Team and our Public Works and Public Safety professionals.”

Finally, Graham thanked the various aldermen he’s worked with over his tenure as mayor.

“I especially want to thank all the great men and women that have served on the City Council. None of our great progress would have been made possible without their help, dedication, and vision,” he said.

Graham said he made the ultimate decision to retire at the November 7 city council meeting, where the council approved the Destination O’Fallon development plan on first reading.

“As I presided over the City Council Meeting for the 456th time on November 7, I was overcome with gratitude. The Council Chambers were overflowing with the youth of O’Fallon and their parents, downtown business owners, hotel developers, homebuilders and members of the faith community. There was a collective sense in the room that O’Fallon is a great community for all. It was at this moment that I knew it was time to pass the torch of leadership,” he said.

City Clerk Phil Goodwin and Alderman Herb Roach have both announced their intentions to run for the office. Candidates for mayor and aldermen have until December 19 to file their petitions to be placed on the ballot.