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CARTERVILLE — The City of Carterville has contested races in three of four wards in the upcoming municipal election on April 2. Incumbent Tom Liebenrood is running unopposed in Ward 4.

In Ward 1, incumbent Rod Sievers will face Billy Matthews.

Sievers was appointed to fill the term of Tom Genty, who died April 1, 2018. He also served two years on the mayor’s citizen advisory committee.

“I’ve been very interested in what’s going on in city for some time. Carterville is growing. It is the kind of place with small town feel, but it needs to be managed wisely to keep that,” Sievers said.

Matthews is a heavy equipment operator by trade, a trustee on Destiny Center Church Board and served on Carterville Fire Department from 2005 to 2011.

In Ward 2, incumbent Michael Helfrich will face Tom Harness, owner of Harness Digital Marketing.

Helfrich, a retired contractor, was first elected to city council 12 years ago.

“We’ve got some things in the works that I would like to see accomplished,” Helfrich said. “We need to upgrade and expand water and sewage plants, and upgrade and expand water storage capability.”

Harness attended “quite a few” city council meetings before deciding whether or not he could add value to the board. In that process, he realized there really wasn’t a focus on business development and revenue.

“As a graduate of Delta Leadership Institute, I felt like I had a lot of tools and resources I could bring to the city of Carterville,” Harness said.

The Ward 3 race pits incumbent Doug Brinkley against Mark A. Bollman.

Brinkley, a retired Secretary of State police officer and current Williamson County Sheriff’s deputy, was elected four years ago and promises not to make Carterville City Council a long-term thing. He said he would only run for a second term if he was asked to do so by residents in his ward. They asked, so he is running for re-election.

Bollman is a facilities manager with City of Carbondale. This is his first run for office, but he currently serves as a member of the water and sewer commission in Carterville.

Every candidate, both incumbents and challengers, cited infrastructure needs and revenue growth as the biggest issues facing the city of Carterville.

As the city grows, Sievers said they need great ways to increase revenues and increase tax base. The city also needs to be careful with revenue, where it comes from and how it is spent.

“The water system needs a lot of help. We have many boil orders. We need a lot of work on infrastructure, and that’s not cheap. It is not accomplished overnight,” Sievers said.

Matthews also talked about the many water main breaks and issues with some roadways.

“I just want to see if a fresh mind with a new point of view can add value to some of the issues the city faces, not that anyone is not doing a good job. Sometimes fresh eyes can have a different perspective,” Matthews said.

He would like to see new water lines in town and a new water tower on north side of town to help with pressure issues. He would also like the council to reopen its decision to increase property taxes by 30 percent to see if there are other avenues to explore before raising property taxes so much.

Helfrich would like to see some things accomplished, including upgrading and expanding water and sewage plants, upgrade and expand water storage capability, and completion of a TIF district along the Illinois 13 corridor.

Harness wants to see the city strengthen relations with existing businesses through the Chamber of Commerce, bring in new business to build new revenue and communications. He also suggested fining grants to help correct water and sewer issues.

“We need to look at existing business and see what we can do to help them grow,” Harness said.

Brinkley said the city is lacking in infrastructure and needs improvements in roads, water and sewage facilities.

“Carterville draws a lot of people … People come here and build houses. Water and sewage is not built for that capacity. Those things costs money,” Brinkley said. “We need to have something that brings in revenue.”

He is passionate about public safety and proud of efforts to modernize the police and fire departments, including the hiring process.

Bollman has already put in work to help improve the infrastructure to get water and sewer improvements, including the installation of new electronic water meters and plans for new water plant and sewer plant. Bollman also thinks he could help Carterville more by helping the city grow.

“There is not enough money to go around. Our funds come from tax revenue, we need more businesses to generation tax revenue rather than taxing residents,” Bollman said.

Many of the candidates also talked about good things in town, like Carterville School District. The district provides a lot of growth. Many also mentioned that the city has been able to keep its small-town feel in spite of rapid growth.

“I think what this city does well is to cater to the people who live here. Kids can go outside and play and you don’t have to worry about them. I think Carterville is that way, people friendly and family oriented,” Helfrich said.

“We have a community that is very giving,” Harness said, citing programs through the Lions Club, Rotary Club and Gum Drops, which provides food for the weekend and school breaks to school-aged children.

Brinkley believes one of the best things in Carterville is its people, calling them “amazing.”

“I think they keep that small town charm with special events that bring everyone together. It makes it enticing for people to move to Carterville,” Bollman said.

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Reporter

Marilyn Halstead is a reporter covering Williamson County.

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