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18 seek 11 seats on Henry County Board
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18 seek 11 seats on Henry County Board

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Eighteen people are vying for a total of 11 seats on the Henry County Board. Six seats are in District 1 — the northern part of the county — including an unexpired two-year term, and five are in District 2.

Currently, the board has a 17-3 split favoring Republicans. Nine Republican seats and two Democratic seats are on the Nov. 3 ballot.

In District 1, Democrats Henry Murphy and Bill Womac, both of Orion, are seeking office. Republicans seeking election are three incumbents: Kathy Nelson and Mark Burton, both of Geneseo, and Raymond Elliott of Atkinson, as well as Angie Young Franks of rural Prophetstown and Joseph Garrity of Geneseo. Elliott was appointed in January 2020 to fill out the term of Jacob Waller, and Burton was appointed in June to replace Erik Brown.

Two people are seeking an unexpired two-year term in District 1: Democrat Betty Murphy of Orion and James “Jim” Thompson of Colona. Thompson was appointed to replace Loren Rathjen in May 2019.

Incumbent Republicans Rex Kiser and Lawrence Reddick are not seeking reelection in District 1.

In District 2, four Democrats and five Republicans are on the ballot. Democrats are incumbent John M. Sovanski as well as Tom May, Ruth Kapacinskas and Martin Mang Ryan, all of Kewanee. Ryan recently suffered a stroke and, if elected, would be unable to serve. If elected, both the Democratic and Republican Central Committees would be consulted and a board member would be chosen by board chairman Marshall Jones with the approval of the county board. The person chosen would have to be a Democrat, however.

Sovanski, a former board member, was appointed in May 2019 to replace Ted Sturtevant.

Republicans running in District 2 are former the former sheriff, Jim Padilla; Shawn Kendall of Galva; Mallisa Sandberg of Cambridge; Dwayne R. Anderson of Lynn Center; and Natalie Collins of Kewanee. Kendall and Anderson are incumbents.

Republican Roger Gradert and Democrat Jerry Thompson are incumbents in District 2 who are not seeking reelection.

Seven of the nine candidates in District 1 answered questionnaires, while five of the nine in District 2 responded. Here is a look at those who responded.

DISTRICT 1

Mark Burton

Education: bachelor's degree, Purdue University; master's degree, University of Iowa; certified purchasing manager (CPM), certificate in human resource management

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Mark Burton

Occupation: retired from John Deere World Headquarters, had management positions in Manufacturing Management, Mergers and Acquisitions, Human Resources and Supply Management

Political experience: Geneseo township trustee

Why are you running for office? "I was appointed to the board in July 2020 to fill the unexpired term of Erik Brown."

Do you have specific goals if you should win? "Maintain the board's tradition of excellence in effective and efficient service and oversight to the residents of Henry County, help lead recovery efforts for Henry County from recent COVID economic difficulties, continue to make Henry County an even better place to live, raise families, work, play, do business and visit."

Ray Elliott

Education: IBM Business School, Triton College. United States Postal Service training in many management fields that included budget, finance, personnel, investigation

Occupation: Retired from the United States Postal Service; currently Atkinson Township supervisor

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Ray Elliott

Political experience: Trustee, Village of Atkinson, four years. Trustee, Atkinson Township. In that position, treasurer in the Trustees Division, "Township Officials of Illinois." Clerk, Township of Atkinson, currently township supervisor. Appointed to County Board February of 2020

Why are you running for office? "I'm looking at the opportunity of staying on the County Board to preserve the goals of keeping real estate taxes at their present level without increasing the county portion. The board does not control taxes set forth by the different schools, city, town, village, as well as the township. I want to be the part of the Board that will fight to keep tax rates down for the county by watching our income versus expenses. Henry County will not become indebted like it was prior to 2010. This board works together and has worked together to remove the deficit and put us at a point where we don't need to raise taxes."

Do you have specific goals if you should win? "If elected, I would like to remain on the finance committee and keep tabs on what our expenses are. My aim is to retain a balanced budget so that the county is one of the few that doesn't raise property taxes. My concept of this is to keep our retirees in our county and not force them out because of taxes. (We have to remember that these are the people who helped build Henry County. They deserve to live here without being forced out). We have to run the county as if it is our own household, by not incurring debt. At the same time, we must set aside funds for a rainy day when things need repair or replacement."

Henry Murphy

Education: Knox College

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Henry Murphy

Occupation: retired

Political experience: precinct committeeman

Why are you running for office? "I am running for office to bring more balance and integrity to the Henry County Board."

Do you have specific goals if you should win? "If I should win, I feel that we need to develop a coherent county-wide strategy for coping with COVID-19. Henry County has very few ICU beds. We have been lucky to have contained the virus to the extent we have. In the absence of leadership from Washington, we need to try to solve this. We need better rural internet. We need better signage on our rural roads. There are intersections near me that have no stop signs, or any indication that the intersection is there at all. We need to keep our county nursing home, Hillcrest, solvent and safe."

Joseph Garrity

Education: "bachelor's degree, Henderson State University; master's degree, St. Ambrose University

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Joseph Garrity

Occupation: 40-plus years in leadership, management, Geneseo Communications; currently sales affiliate consultant

Political experience: None

Why are you running for office? "Being a lifelong resident of Henry County, I decided to bring my leadership experience to work for the citizens of Henry County and to be their voice and continue to make Henry County a great place to live and raise our families."

Do you have specific goals if you should win? "Continue to be fiscal responsible and have a balanced budget and save taxpayers money; have transparency by keeping citizens informed; keep costs to minimum while still providing great services for the citizens of this great county and be a voice for the citizens of this county which I am proud to be part of."

Jim Thompson

Education: attended LA junior college and the University of Southern California

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Jim Thompson

Occupation: retired law enforcement officer, 32 years

Political experience: Henry County Board (appointed), Hanna Township board of trustees, Hanna Township precinct committeeman

Why are you running for office? "I am running for office to give back to my community. I would like to help the residents of Henry County in any way I can."

Do you have specific goals if you should win? "My goal, if elected, is to continue to work with all of the members of the Henry County Board and our outstanding public employees. To provide the best service possible to county residents while controlling spending and taxes. To apply 'good common sense' to government."

Bill Womac

Education: attended Black Hawk College, collections specialist, sanitary and storm water

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Bill Womac

Occupation: public works, city of Moline, 23 years; owner, Womac's Country Fresh Produce, 25 years

Political experience: None

Why are you running for office? "I have experience working in the public works field for over 23 years. I have worked from streets to sanitation, parks, storm waters and sewers. I can relate to the daily problems and work with the taxpayers of Henry County."

Do you have specific goals if you should win? "My goals are to help the agricultural farmers and small-town business to prosper in this economically tough time. I also would like to help hospitals and nursing homes in our county."

Betty Murphy

Education: bachelor's degree, University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana; AA degrees, Parkland College

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Betty Murphy

Occupation: retired RN with current, active Illinois license

Political experience: former Henry County Board member

Why are you running for office: "I am running for office because Henry County needs responsible, trustworthy people on their board."

Do you have specific goals if you should win? "I would add honesty, fairness and integrity to all committee decisions. The impact of COVID-19 on our economy is tragic. Since the lack of federal response continues, it's up to the states, counties, schools and businesses to manage the crisis. Come winter we will be driven inside for an undetermined duration. I'd like to see our county board and state representatives acknowledge the truth and take a leadership role in exposing misinformation about the virus. I'd like to see improvement in rural Internet since remote learning is now a necessity. I'd like to see more masking, social distancing and precautions practiced in Henry County. Our county COVID cases are increasing. It's crazy that we must beg people to use precautions that will save their own lives. It's been six months now and Henry County still needs a plan."

DISTRICT 2

Dwayne Anderson

Education: bachelor's degree, Augustana College;Certified Public accountant (CPA) /Personal Financial Specialist (PFS); Accredited Land Consultant (ALC)

Anderson Dwayne

Dwayne Anderson 

Occupation: farmer and managing partner, Anderson Family Farms, LP; commercial real estate and land broker, Dwayne Anderson Company

Political experience: Henry County Board, former board member, Orion school district

Why are you running for office? "Delivering efficient, effective and streamlined government to Henry County continues to be key to our future as well as paying huge dividends for all citizens and taxpayers. Balanced budgets, maintaining reserves, proactive and capable leadership, full disclosure and integrity of financial information and accountability are our top priorities."

Do you have specific goals if you should win? "Although recently compounded by COVID issues, we must continue to ensure that all our county services, schools, nursing home, police and fire departments and roads are examples for excellence. Our goals should also include sound and sustainable economic growth and development along with support for our farmers, our families and our local businesses. With the right tools and people, overwhelmingly positive results can continue to be achieved and for making our county an enjoyable place to live and raise our families."

Natalie Collins

Education: bachelor's degree and master's degree, Bradley University

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Natalie Collins

Occupation: quality engineer, Springfield Armory, Inc.

Political experience: None listed

Why are you running for office? "Henry County overall has benefited from responsible and dedicated leadership in the past in the evidence of a cash reserve and by our ability to remain within budget without excessive tax hikes or taking out loans. I am running for office to guarantee that we continue our fiscal responsibility. Henry County will see a prosperous economy by promoting small business and establishing tax incentives for business growth and creation. Illinois is terrible for business, but Henry County doesn't have to be."

Do you have specific goals if you should win? "Balanced budget rule. amend county board rules and regulations to stipulate that the board operates the general fund on a zero-deficit basis every year continuous."

Jim Padilla

Education: Black Hawk College, University of Illinois Police Training Institute

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Jim Padilla

Occupation: 41 years in law enforcement, currently employed as a Kewanee school district resource officer

Political experience: Former Henry County Sheriff, 34 years working in Henry County government. Kewanee Township No. 1 precinct committeeman, previous Burns Township precinct committeeman

Why are you running for office? "It took some debate with myself to decide whether or not I wanted to be a county board candidate, but I enjoy serving my community and will hopefully be able to continue to do so in some fashion if I don't get elected. There are many issues brought before the county board and many decisions that are made, some of which may not be popular or to everyone's liking. Being a member of the board would at least give me the opportunity to hear the issues at hand, listen to the citizens of the county and be able to make an informed decision even though it may not please everyone. I will, as before, make myself available to anyone who wishes to contact me with any questions or concerns."

Do you have specific goals if you should win? "Good working relationship with department heads and employees, budgetary integrity and transparency."

John Sovanski

Education: attended Black Hawk College

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John Sovanski

Occupation: retired, 39 years at Boswell Distributing Company, Kewanee

Political experience: 24 years Kewanee Township trustee, 20 years Henry County Board member

Why are you running for office? "I am running for reelection because of my experience on the board and my ability to work with others to help the county run as well as it does."

Do you have specific goals should you be elected? "My goals are to stay within the budget, keep a good work force and look for ways to bring in new jobs and growth to the county."

Shawn Kendall

Education: bachelor's degree, Knox College

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Shawn Kendall

Occupation: owner, Trademark Vacations; past strategic travel manager Groupon, Galva High School social studies teacher

Political experience: four years Henry County Board

Why are you running for office? "I want to bring my unique professional background to help address issues the county faces. My focus is on fiscal responsibility, public safety and economic growth. I believe it is our goal as a board to ensure that every dollar collected in tax money is used as efficiently as possible while making sure our county can develop and provide the highest level of public services possible."

Do you have specific goals should you be elected? "Continue the balanced budget resolution, negotiate fair labor contracts, appropriately fund our sheriff's department and office of emergency management and ensure the county supports and helps grow our small businesses."

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