As it has in recent election cycles, this year’s race for the John A. Logan College board of trustee has been a contentious race.
Seven candidates are vying for two seats in Tuesday’s election, they are Cheryl Graff of Murphysboro, Chuck Hamilton of Carter-ville, Bill Kilquist of Carbondale, John O’Keefe of Marion, Jim Snider of Energy, Mike Vanhorn of Carterville and Russell Williams of Marion.
Graff is seeking to regain a position on the board. She filled an unexpired term on the board previously, but did not win a re-election bid in 2011.
In a February candidate’s forum, Graff said education is her passion and the board could not afford to make cuts on college personnel because it would inevitably be a detriment to student success.
Graff received the endorsement of the JALC Faculty Association, a union affiliated with the Illinois Education Association/National Education Association.
Hamilton said he is running to be a voice of financial reason on the board. He said the board needs to fully study the cost of pro-jects, and how to fund them, before diving in headlong. Hamilton serves as the director of Tri-County Special Education where he manages a $12 million budget, and is experienced in negotiating contract and personnel issues among other skills, which he says will serve him well if elected.
Kilquist is a former six-term Jackson County Sheriff and warden of the Murphysboro IYC. He served as a Logan trustee from 2005 to 2010.
Kilquist resigned from the board in 2010 to become the college’s director of emergency planning and risk management. He re-signed from that position in January in order to run again as a trustee.
Kilquist said he considers Logan to be the crown-jewel of Southern Illinois and believes his experience can serve the college.
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O’Keefe is seeking re-election to his current position. He has served on the board for more than 20 years as a trustee. O’Keefe has been forced to spend much of the election cycle refuting claims made by opposing candidates that there is an environment of unfair hiring practices and nepotism at the college.
O’Keefe said the board has worked hard to reform policy at John A. Logan College, and as a result now has some of the most strin-gent hiring guidelines in the nation.
As part of the board’s accomplishments, O’Keefe highlighted during a February forum the fact that the college has become a top workforce training community college in the state.
The other incumbent, Snider, is seeking his second term on the board of trustees. Snider served 16 years on the Herrin school board. He said he is proud of what the college has accomplished in his first six years on the board and stands by his voting record.
He said although the financial restraints have been challenging, the college has managed to remain financially sound as a result of a Sustainable Financial Plan to guide the college through its lean years.
Vanhorn is one challenger who questioned the manner in which Logan hires are made. He claims the hire took place in executive session and alleged nepotism was rampant at the college. He said an atmosphere of nepotism at the college has created mistrust in the community and gives the college a black eye.
Williams too alleges the college has had questionable hiring practices for decades, and said the board should make itself exempt from the hiring process and allow the administration to make the day-to-day hiring decisions.
Williams is a part-time instructor at Logan and director of the Brehm School Foundation in Carbondale. He consults and trains organizations in the areas of board development, governance and fundraising.