MARION — A new city commissioner was chosen during a special meeting of Marion City Council on Monday evening. Monty Blue, former Williamson County Coroner and owner of Blue Funeral Home, will fill the seat left vacant when Anthony Rinella became mayor after the retirement of long time Mayor Bob Butler.
Blue was one of six men who expressed interest in filling the position of city commissioner. Other candidates were Doug Patton, who works for Illinois Department of Transportation; Jack Reed, director of Parks and Recreation in Marion; Buddy Sellars, who is employed by Marion Street Department; Dennis Ball, who has announced his plans to run for mayor in 2019; and Donald Holman, a mayoral candidate in 2015.
Each candidate had five minutes to talk about their experience and reasons for wanting the position of city commissioner. They answered questions from Marion City Council members.
In addition to coroner, Blue has served Marion Chamber of Commerce president, United Way president, volunteer baseball coach and served on Marion school board.
“I won’t have a problem with whoever you select. You cannot go wrong. They, like me, love this town,” Blue said.
Commissioner Angelo Hightower asked each candidate to give the current council a grade based on the kind of job they are doing. Blue gave them an A.
“I think you’re a gentlemen, and at the end of the day, you do what’s right for this city,” Blue said.
Hightower also asked what each candidate would do if they disagreed with an important decision the council had to make.
“I’d disagree, but I will shake your hand and we will go on to the next item of business,” Blue said.
After each candidate spoke, the council started to discuss the candidates, which had to be done in an open meeting.
“It’s my intention to fill this position tonight, so we can move forward,” Rinella said.
Brenda Lawler asked permission to ask a question. Rinella told her to go ahead.
“Who’s going to step into this for the long haul? Are we going to have to do this again,” she asked.
Rinella told her yes. This appointment would last 14 months, then the public will elect new commissioners and a mayor in 2019. Of the six candidates, Patton, Blue and Holman plan to run for commissioner. Ball is running for mayor. Reed and Sellars have not decided.
Hightower said he thought Patton was his choice.
“Monty is the best choice. He’s available and has dealt with the public,” Goss said.
Webb agreed with Goss that Blue would be best.
“I could live with Monty, Doug, Jack or Buddy. I don’t know Mr. Ball. Don, you don’t have the experience,” Rinella said.
Goss made a motion to make Blue the next commissioner. Webb seconded the motion, and both he and Hightower voted in favor of Blue.
“Wouldn’t it be great if we got this much interest at a council meeting?” Rinella said. "We are transparent. We want you here."
Blue will be sworn in during special meeting later this week.