If you want to run for office in South Jacksonville – or anywhere else in Morgan County – today is the first day that you can go looking for people to sign your nominating petition.
After much deliberation, I regret to say that I won’t be one of those people joining you in the search for signatures.
Over the last sixteen months, a lot has happened in the Village of South Jacksonville. The Illinois State Police report opened the eyes of village residents to an absolute mess of poor decisions and leadership at Village Hall. Subsequent work by folks like Tyson Manker and Mike Woodyard uncovered additional lies, evidence concealment, and reports of Board of Trustee members consistently being in the dark on things until they were asked to cast a vote on them at monthly meetings. The work of citizen watchdogs led to the retirements of former South Jacksonville Village President Gordon Jumper, former police chief Richard Evans, and the resignations of Linda Douglass and Sonie Smith. Village residents spoke with their votes and removed Steven Douglass from the Board of Trustees. A new day was brought forward to the Village of South Jacksonville.
I am proud of the role that I played in these events. Looking back, I believe that the right thing – despite the continued languishing of matters on the desk of our State’s Attorney – was done and will be done in the future. I do not believe that Mr. Jumper, Mr. Evans, and Mrs. Douglass have seen the end of the ethics complaint filed by Tyson Manker.
I have spoken out on many subjects within our village, often leading to a common challenge by opponents and supporters alike – “If you don’t like it, do something about it and run for office.”
Unfortunately, friends, that is not something that is possible for me to do, this time around.
For those who may not be aware, my full-time employment is at a group of radio stations in Springfield. One of my roles there is that of a news anchor and reporter, in addition to an afternoon show on a music station. After several months of discussion behind the scenes, my employer has told me that they can’t allow me to run for political office and remain in my position, due to the possibility – however slight it may be – of one of my opponents demanding “equal time” accommodation during the campaign season. This would mean that my employer would have to take the total amount of time that my voice is heard on the air on both radio stations (whether I was talking about the election or not) and offer that amount of time to any and all candidates in the election in which I am participating. The company has told me, in no uncertain terms, that they can’t do that.
So, my choice was very simple – I could either run for office, but have to leave my employment for the campaign season, running the risk that my employer may replace me and not have a job for me to return to, once the election is over in April… or, I could choose not to run for office and keep my income.
Those were my choices. At the end of the day, the need to continue to provide for my family outweighs the ability to push forward with a run for office that may or may not have been successful. So, regrettably, I will not be able to “do something about it” from an elected position in the future. I will continue to advocate for improvements in the Village of South Jacksonville and all of Morgan County, as a citizen, but will have to do it in only that role.