Originally Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2012, 8:49 pm
Last Updated: Oct. 15, 2012, 12:08 am

Forty people compete for seats on Henry County Board

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By Lisa Hammer, rlhammer@qconline.com

CAMBRIDGE -- Forty candidates, a full slate from each party, are seeking the 20 seats to be filled Nov. 6 on on the Henry County Board, which shrank during redistricting..

The board voted to go from three districts to two, creating "north" and "south" board districts, reducing the number of members from 24 to 20. Republicans hold 13-11 edge on the board that will be replace Election Day.

The top problems facing the new board, as identified by the candidates themselves, are balancing the budget and economic growth.

For the year ending November 30, 2008, the county was in the black by $200,000. It finished the following year in the red by the same amount. The projected deficit for fiscal year 2010 was $504,000 and the actual deficit was $531,000. The county began this year with a projected deficit of $718,057 but is now projecting the year-end deficit to be $24,033.

Behind budget issues and economic development, the board will take up include negotiation of the five labor contracts which are all expiring, promoting the county, providing needed services and public safety. The sheriff's department comprises roughly a third of the county's general fund budget.

Although restoration of the 1880 courthouse is not complete, none of the county board candidates identified the courthouse as a top priority. Tuckpointing has been completed, and now the county progresses with other priorities as its architect suggests, according to county administrator Colleen Gillaspie.

The new county baord map makes Geneseo the largest city in District 1 and Kewanee the largest in District 2.

Three incumbents chose not to run for re-election: Democrat Pat Ripperger of Alpha in the old district 1; Democrat Tom Steele of Geneseo in the old district 2 and Republican Muriel Weber of rural Geneseo in the old district 2.

Incumbents who are seeking re-election in the new District 1 are: Democrats, Ann DeSmith of Atkinson, Dennis Sullivan of rural Geneseo and Jim Eccher of Orion; Republicans Kathy Nelson of Geneseo, Tim Wells of Geneseo, Karen Urick of Prophetstown, Rick Livesay of rural Geneseo, Bill Preston of Geneseo and Jon Zahm of Osco. Newcomers are previous board members Jo Anne Hillman of Colona, Jim King of Geneseo and Betty Murphy of Orion, Joe Swan of Colona, Ian Malmstrom of Colona, Karen Russell of Geneseo and John Smith of Colona.

District 2 incumbents seeking re-election are: Democrats, Janice May, John Sovanski, Ted Sturtevant, Jim Kursock, Jerry Thompson and James Findley, all of Kewanee and Republicans Roger Gradert and Kippy Nelson, both of rural Cambridge, Rebekah McCaw of Woodhull, Donald DeDobbelaere of Orion and Dennis Anderson of rural Galva. Newcomers are previous board member Marvin Gradert of Geneseo; Loren Rathjen of Colona, Jacob Waller of Geneseo, Charles Lotridge of Atkinson, Thomas Wiley of Cambridge, Eric Hollaway, Sammie Borst, Thomas May and Thomas Millsaps, Kelli Parsons, Terry Sears and Willliam "Bill" Lesage of Kewanee.