Letters to the Editor – March 22, 2017

Cannot support Public Safety Sales Tax

We are ardent supporters of all the first responders in St. Clair County and we agree with Sheriff Watson that additional deputies are warranted. But we cannot vote for the 1% sales tax increase. The County could easily fund safety increases were it to admit that Mid-America Airport is a failed business venture.

Instead of continuing to sink valuable tax dollars into a venture that shows little likelihood of miraculously becoming profitable, divert those unproductive dollars to the first responders.

Charlie Pitts

Roach needs to report his source of donations

Why hasn’t Herb Roach reported any of his expenses or income on the Illinois State Board of Elections reporting website.

He has sent out two city-wide mailers, hundreds of yard signs, door hangers, and online advertising but he hasn’t reported where he got the money or how much he as spent.

Is it because he is trying to hide where the money is coming from?  According to state law, he is to report his expenditures to the Board of Elections, but he hasn’t.

This weekend his most recent door hanger didn’t even state who paid for it.  Why?

He said he is not being funded or backed by the Belleville Machine, but this is exactly the tactics the Belleville Machine uses in campaigns.

For a mayor who states he wants to improve communications, he is very silent on this matter.  Is this the kind of Mayor you want running your city?

Is this the kind of Mayor you want managing your tax dollars?

I don’t think so.  It is time to come clean Roach and tell us where you are getting the money to fund your campaign.

Bob Wells

O’Fallon needs men like Gilreath

Matt “Gilly” Gilreath represents everyone. I have had the privilege of working with Matt on numerous Business Projects, Community Events, and Charitable Causes. Every time Matt has been about helping people. Matt has a keen ability to get things done in both a timely and quality manner.

But the best thing about working with Mr. Gilreath is always his passion for helping people. Matt always builds people up and looks for ways to help everyone advance. He communicates well with people of all ages, religions, races, and ethnicities. Don’t let his humor fool you, he is serious. He is most serious about his Faith, and reaching people. Matt is never afraid to stop and pray with someone.

The City of O’Fallon needs Matt Gilreath and many more like him. He will tell you he isn’t perfect, and he strives hard to overcome mistakes. His dedication helping others has grown in the 25 years I have known him. Please vote Matt Gilreath on April 4th.

                                    Rev. Jesus’ T. Kimbrow

Resident urges Ward 5 to write in Chris Hursey

I am writing a letter in support of Chris Hursey as Ward 5 Alderman. Chris and I met on the diamonds of the O’Fallon parks during t-ball as little kids. We also served together as O’Fallon Parks & Recreation Camp Counselors in our teen years. I not only call Chris a friend, but also my Ward 5 Alderman.

Chris knows firsthand the value the O’Fallon Parks & Recreation department and the people it employs. Parks not only provide recreation, health & wellness benefits and employment opportunities for residents, they are also a source of economic value. Parks not only enhance our property values, but also generate significant revenue for the city from out-of-town visitors. Revenue that allows the city to care for infrastructure needs throughout the city without increasing the property tax burden on its citizens for those specific needs.

He has already proven to care for the needs and desires of his ward when he changed his vote (along with Rich Meile and Herb Roach) on the recent proposal for the new Dollar General. He listened to the voices of his constituents, like myself, who expressed concern about his vote not representing their desires. Chris is vested in this community as a homeowner and looks to raise the next generation here. Unlike his opponent, O’Fallon City Council is not a brief stop on a path to something bigger in a political career. Being your Ward 5 Alderman is an act of service to a community that he and I love.

When you receive your ballot on April 4th, you will unfortunately not see Chris’ name listed. His opponent, son of a St. Clair County Circuit Judge, allowed friends to appeal his petitions all the way to St. Clair County Court to remove Chris’ name from your ballot. As Ward 5 residents, you still have a voice…you must fill in the oval next to the write-in line and write “CHRIS HURSEY” on that line on April 4th!

Curtis Newcomb

Little of substance to Goodwin

Voters in O’Fallon have a critical choice to make on April 4th. Continue to support the policies of the current administration or opt for an open and fair government where citizen input is encouraged and welcomed.

Phil’s shrink-wrapped van and full-page color ads look nice, but below the surface there is little substance.

Goodwin says he will put money back in your pocket. He can make this offer because Mayor Graham sought and the Council approved a nearly 5% increase in property taxes in December. Herb Roach voted NO to that tax increase and wants it rescinded.

Goodwin wants to refund some of the City’s Water System fund. That surplus took 20 years to accumulate and Goodwin would deplete it in 3 years. With the City’s aging infrastructure in many parts of town, that money will be needed in the very near future.

The folks in Fairview Heights would love to see Phil become mayor because they would benefit more from his “first 1000 gallons free” motto since they pay 20% more for O’Fallon water than we do.

For the critics of Herb Roach’s voting record, I recommend you take time to attend a City Council meeting or watch them on the City’s website to understand why Herb votes as he does. Herb does his research, one of the very few on Council who do. He has constantly voted against tax increases and the half-baked projects that cause them. He votes for things when justified, defendable, and properly budgeted.

Lloyd Soeters

Campaign has missed the mark

Earlier this year, I received a mailer from the Herb Roach campaign that touted him as a strong leader. Following a hostile presidential election, I welcomed the refreshingly positive campaign piece. Herb’s piece featured the ABC’s of leadership – Accountability, Brave, Communication, etc. Characteristics that all of us should strive for. Herb’s campaign has severely missed the mark. His actions have worked to produce a very different list.

A  – Altering articles: The Roach campaign edited the featured photo on a BND editorial to make it seem as if the article was criticizing his opponent. Goodwin was not mentioned in the article.

B – Bullying:  Herb Roach has argued with his constituents, deleted criticism, and banned residents from his Facebook page.

C – Criticizing the Police Department: Herb Roach instructed Union workers to remove signs from the roundabout and spoke disparagingly about the Police Department on Facebook.

Like many tenets of Herb Roach’s campaign, his mailer was misleading. Whenever your campaign is founded on a lie – that the City of O’Fallon is in financial turmoil – you must resort to tactics like these.

Donald Butler

What services will Roach cut?

Dear Mr. Roach: I read your campaign flyer with interest – I am mostly interested in what it does not address. You intend to “roll back the last property tax increase”. Typical campaign rhetoric – and totally without specifics. As Ward 7 candidate Tom Mitchell correctly noted during candidate assembly, when costs go up, you either pay more or buy less. Or in the City’s case, spend reserves.

If you roll back the tax levy increase (about $14 per $100K EAV), which City budget lines will you cut? Or do you propose using budget surplus? But when the reserves are gone, then what? Or instead are you going to cut what you think are mere ‘wants’ or unnecessary expenses within the approved budget? That’s just it – we don’t know. Voters know the what but neither the how nor where of your campaign rhetoric. Nor do you address the impact to City services of your rollback – do you really intend to rescind the first increase our Library has requested in years?

That’s what bothers many of us voters. While your record does show your opposition to many but not all annual tax levy increases, you have never specified exactly which expenses or services you propose to cut – at least, not that I can find in the minutes of any Committee or the Council in the same time that you opposed the levies.

So which is it? Which of the City’s services and expenses do you propose we do without?

Charlie Pitts

Support given to Roach for mayor

I’m writing you to voice my support for Herb Roach for Mayor of O’Fallon, IL.  I’ve known Herb and his family for almost 20 years.  All the Roach’s, whether they like it or not, are now an extension of my own family.

Herb always goes the extra mile when supporting both his family and community. He puts everything he has into whatever task he takes on.  Being Mayor of O’Fallon will be no different.  Herb is extremely capable and will always do what’s best for his community and listen to his constituents.  I honestly believe he views the community as an extension of his own family.  Being a part of projects and working with different people to either bring folks together or accomplish a shared goal is his passion and it shows.  He’s been proving this in worldwide business management for over 40 years.

Vote for change for O’Fallon on April 4.  Mayor Herb Roach will help O’Fallon grow and thrive while keeping the values of the community at the center of everything he does.  Herb’s the choice, now you just have to get out there and vote for the Mayor everyone deserves!  VOTE HERB ROACH FOR MAYOR APRIL 4!

Katie Starnes

Roach will pull O’Fallon back

Why does Herb Roach keeps comparing O’Fallon to twenty years ago?  He keeps telling us that we do not have a strong community and we need to go back to the way it was two decades ago.

He is wrong.  We have a very strong community. All he has to do is get out and drive our city and he will see community on every corner.

He will see it at the Family Sports Park, which he has consistently voted against.  This weekend alone, there were thousands of O’Fallon families out enjoying the park, playing soccer, playing baseball, walking and running.

He can see it in downtown O’Fallon at local restaurants where friends have dinner and celebrate special occasions like was the case at Hemmingway’s this past St. Patrick’s Day.

He voted against the new community plaza to be built in downtown O’Fallon, which would allow for more gatherings and community building activities.

His definition of building community is bringing carnival that used to come to town 20 years ago back to one weekend a year.  That is not community building.

Community is built everyday in our schools, in our churches, in our parks, and in our neighborhoods.  O’Fallon is one of the friendliest cities around.  Neighbors help neighbors everyday.  We watch out for each other and we spend time together celebrating what a great city we live in.

If you want community building, vote or Phil Goodwin, who has spent 30 plus years as a Rotarian, spends every Monday mentoring to a student in Central School District, attends Church every Sunday and donates his time to help disabled veterans. That is community.

On April 4th – Vote for Phil Goodwin.

Mary Thurman

A wrong turn down Memory Lane

Mary Thurman took the wrong path down memory lane and tried to rewrite history.

FACT CHECK: I did have a rich boyfriend who filed for bankruptcy over 30 years ago.  I did refuse to testify against him and opted to take my case to the jury after the feds carried through with their threat of an indictment. I could have taken the easy way out and took a plea, but instead, I went to trial and was acquitted.  I could have left town, but instead, I stuck around and was re-elected two more times during and after this ordeal.  That’s why I love O’Fallon – the residents are my support structure and my family.  They have stood by me through thick and thin.

As I recall my Mayoral record Mary, I hardly left O’Fallon in “shambles”.  Property taxes were all but eliminated, unnecessary fees disappeared, and at the same time, services were improved.  What debt we had was for infrastructure improvements.  My economic development vision is still in place today.  But Mary, are you correct when you say I will take us back to when information was freely available, the public was encouraged to participate and have a voice, and all residents were treated with respect because back then, we never forgot that we were public servants.

Kristi Vetri
Write-In Candidate for O’Fallon Treasurer

Dennis Muyleart for Ward 1

Fresh blood and fresh ideas are crucial to the success of any organization, city, state, and nation.  Each generation refreshes and enriches the world.  I have had the privilege of knowing Dennis Muyleart from the age of 3 years old on the soccer fields of Fairmont City. Not only was Dennis an outstanding athlete, but an excellent student.  Dennis’ success at Althoff Catholic High School, Missouri University of Science and Technology (formerly University of Missouri Rolla UMR), and his success at the Terminal Railroad Association are all credits to Dennis’ tireless devotion to the task at hand and overcoming any obstacle in his way.

I have spoken at length professionally on many political and economic topics to yoke Dennis’ strength and input to make the best decisions for all parties concerned. To grow as a person, organization, city, or nation, we require fresh ideas, and perspectives. We also require leaders that will challenge the status quo. I feel blessed to have a man at my disposal to provide such invaluable resources and advice. I have no doubt that the citizens of O’Fallon Illinois living in Ward 1 will equally benefit and enjoy the same experience with Dennis Muyleart as your new Ward 1 Alderman.

Robert S. O’Dell

O’Fallon citizen proudly supports Goodwin

I first met Phil Goodwin when he showed up unannounced at the front door.  He introduced himself and briefly explained to me why he was running for mayor.  He wanted my vote.

When our short conversation came to a close he said. “Just contact me if you have questions or need anything.”  Recently I had some questions in regards to the city’s election process so I thought I’d try and do just that.

I sent him an e-mail.  He quickly responded with his cell phone number and recommended a good time to call.

I called him and unfortunately caught him when he was driving.  Rather than just tell me to call back later he immediately pulled over.   A candid and informative conversation ensued.

Phil has been the city clerk for 16 years.  He knows a whole lot about the who, what, where, and why of O’Fallon government.  He’s not only keen on the issues but he has all the history as well.

Phil stayed on the line until I was out of questions and closed by saying, “Call back anytime.”

I liked the “small town” direct access that he afforded me.  That he actually meant what he said when he offered his assistance.  It made me feel valued and that I had a trusted ally at city hall.

I proudly display a “Phil Goodwin” election sign on my front lawn.  A “win” for Phil on Election Day would be a “GOOD-WIN” for O’Fallon.

Bill Malec

O’Fallon Property Taxes – The Rest of the Story

At the aldermanic candidates forum on March 2nd, several candidates noted – correctly – that the City had raised property taxes for two consecutive years; 4.5% for FY15 and 4.93% for FY16. The clear implication was that our property taxes would be lower if the City was doing a better job of controlling expenses. Here’s the rest of that property tax story.

Between 2005 and 2015 the City did raise property taxes 7 times, but it also LOWERED them 3 times and made no change at all once. The average Consumer Price Index – the rate at which employee salaries, gas for vehicles, electricity, water, cement, asphalt, computers, and the rest of stuff needed to run a city – for those two periods was 1.8% and 2.2%  respectively. So about 1/3 of the increases was for higher costs due to inflation.

For tax year 2014, owners of a home with an Equalized Assessed Value (EAV) of $100,000 would have paid total property tax of $2,705. But the City’s share of that would is only $332 (~12%). The 2015 total property tax would have been $2,727 with the City receiving $342, an increase of $10 per $100,000 EAV. While we do not yet know the 2016 total property taxes, the City has asked for taxes which result in a 1.00706% of EAV which is $356 per $100K EAV, an increase of $14 over 2015.

So what services do you want to give up for your $24?

Charlie Pitts

Chris Hursey for Ward 5 Alderman

I am writing a letter in support of Chris Hursey for Ward 5 Alderman. I have the privilege of being one of Chris’ neighbors and Ward 5 residents. Chris is an honorable and genuine guy who got into local politics to serve the community he loves, not because he has a personal agenda or needed to fill a spot on his resume. He is an exemplary citizen who gives of his time generously to the youth of this community through many years in the Parks & Recreation department and now as a coach for the State Champion Carriel Junior High boys basketball team.

Chris has shown he is willing to represent the desires of Ward 5 residents. He, along with two other alderman (Rich Meile and Herb Roach), changed their previous votes regarding the future location of the new Dollar General. Chris listened to residents of our ward, like myself, that expressed to him our displeasure with his previous vote. He is vested in the ongoing success of O’Fallon, not just as a life-long resident but also as a homeowner. Chris recognizes the significant economic value to our park system and its ability to generate revenue to support older parts of town in need of upgraded infrastructure. He recognizes the value of quality schools to retain home value and draw new residents to the city, and he wants to encourage increased communication and efforts between the city and all O’Fallon school districts.

I am appalled that his opponent, son of a St. Clair County Circuit Judge, allowed his friends within the Belleville Democratic Machine to throw Chris off our ballots on a technicality by using East St. Louis and Cook County case law. While Chris’ name will not appear on your ballot, you still have the ability to have your voice heard by filling in the oval next to the write-in line and writing “CHRIS HURSEY” on that line on April 4th.

Jim Ford

Concerns with the 1% School Facility Sales Tax

O’Fallon has excellent schools – a point of pride among residents and a reason to choose a home here. Schools are expensive, great schools often more so. When District 90 had financial difficulties 3 years ago, the Board worked with the administration, parents and unions to regain a better financial condition. Now it’s District 203 with financial woes and its Board is working through some difficult tradeoffs.

The 1% school facility sales tax would reduce financial pressures for many school districts – but only temporarily.

And that temporary-ness is a problem. School Boards are under tremendous parental pressure to fund whatever the latest parental push is, even when it’s after-school clubs or teams. Those are certainly useful educational experiences – but it would be ridiculous to claim a child is uneducated if there were no such extracurricular activities.

Even though most Boards have promised to reduce property taxes by rebating part of the sales taxes they receive, parents will continue to demand Boards somehow fund every need and want. So there’s never enough money. Boards seem unable say we can’t afford more,” or “our school is good enough.” Not until the budget can’t be met.

At some point, taxpayers will say, “Every year, school taxes go up. We’ve had enough. Our schools are excellent and they are good enough.” Maybe this is the year. While I would like to see an alternate funding source for our schools, I do not trust the Legislature to maintain current funding nor school boards to control costs.

Charlie Pitts

Fight City Hall by voting on April 4

The O’Fallon Electoral Board met in January to hear a complaint about the petitions Mr. Hursey filed for treasurer. What transpired offers some insight as to how City Hall works.

After sixteen years as city clerk, Mr. Goodwin accepted petitions that did not have the proper number of signatures required by law. The local Board tacitly approved Goodwin’s action by allowing Mr. Hursey to stay on the ballot, but the circuit court promptly and correctly overturned the Board’s decision.

Why would the Board uphold Goodwin’s error? Ponder this. The Board consisted of the Mayor and the two senior-most Aldermen.

All three members of the Board contributed to Goodwin’s campaign. Mr. Hursey, the city’s attorney who acts on behalf of the Board, the law firm representing Mr. Hursey, and Mr. Goodwin all contributed too. Among this small enclave of individuals a total of $11,300 was contributed according to financial reports submitted to the Illinois Board of Elections.

Whoever said you can’t fight City Hall must have lived in O’Fallon. But there is one way to fight City Hall, and that is to take 10 minutes out of your day on April 4th and VOTE for the candidates of your choice; don’t let apathy win the day. VOTE.

In my opinion, City Hall needs a thorough cleaning so I’ll be voting for Herb Roach for Mayor. He will not be beholden to a small group of individuals who think that money can make a mayor.

Ron Zelms