MURPHYSBORO — A virtual newcomer to politics, Republican Jose Mendoza Jr. edged out a Democratic incumbent who was getting settled in some deep issues of the board.
In Tuesday's election, newcomer Jose Mendoza beat Brian Chapman, 2,096 votes to 1,637.
Chapman was appointed to fill the District 1 vacancy made when Will Alstat went on to join the John A. Logan College board. Alstat died in August.
Chapman, who holds a master's degree in Public Administration, and a Ph.D. in Political Science/Public Administration, has training as a city manager and county administrator.
Since joining the board, he had supported a prevailing wage initiative; supported not maximizing the county's tax levy in an effort to reduce property taxes and provide a bit of financial relief to taxpayers; worked to help update a Human Resources policy for the county; and worked to lead an economic development plan for the county.
Board chairman John Rendleman said he didn't know Mendoza, but expected that he would continue work that had been begun by Chapman.
“We’ll have to see what kind of impact there is on the work of the county board,” Rendleman said. “Obviously, the things that Mr. Chapman was doing have to continue to be done, but the loss of Chapman is it’s going to (be felt). Chapman was one of the hardest-working board members that we had, and he was experienced and had a lot of background in public policy.
"His work was always very thoughtful and very good, so it’s a loss for the board to lose someone of his character and abilities. I don’t know Mr. Mendoza, but he won and will become part of the board and we’ll be happy to see him pick up where perhaps Dr. Chapman left out.”
Board member Steven Bost said Chapman understood the value of communicating and team-building in problem-solving. He said he hoped Chapman wasn't voted out because of his questions about zoning.
"He ultimately concluded that zoning wasn't a good fit in Jackson County, but he worked to collect the data to come to an informed conclusion instead of a knee-jerk reaction," Bost said. "It is worrisome if voters don't want their representatives to explore issues and make informed decisions. That being said, I know Jose will work as hard to be informed as Brian did, and he will continue the work that Brian and other Republicans and Democrats have started to bring property tax relief to Jackson County."
Mendoza said, "This election to me means that people in District 1 and all over are thinking for themselves, instead of allowing themselves to be given their opinions for them. That to me is a good sign of a more positive future for all of us."
He also said he was looking forward to finding out about the various groups in Southern Illinois with which he could establish common ground to improve conditions for Southern Illinoisans.
Joining Bost and Mendoza on the new board will be incumbents who were re-elected: Daniel Bost (District 2); Tamiko C. Mueller (District 4 for four years); and Julie Peterson (District 5).
Returning to the board from uncontested races are Cheryl Endres in District 4; Elizabeth Hunter in District 6 for a four-year term; and Keith Larkin in District 7. Scott Comparato, who was filling out a term left open by the retirement of Ted Redmond, was elected to represent District 6 for the remainder of that two-year term.
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