Villa Grove aldermen square off for mayor's post

VILLA GROVE — Two veteran aldermen are vying for the mayoral post being vacated by incumbent Thelma "Boots" Blaney.

Blaney is not seeking re-election to dedicate more time to family and travel. "I have very much enjoyed my four years as mayor of Villa Gove," Blaney said. "I would encourage more people to get involved in their community."

Current aldermen Mike Akers and Terry Harbin are running for the position.

Akers has represented the city's Ward 1 for eight years and has been an EMS and paramedic for 22 years. Akers, who will turn 50 in April, now works as a paramedic supervisor in Effingham. Akers says he is "looking forward to continuing the progress we are making in Villa Grove". Akers and his wife have also been involved in community enhancement projects such as the Santa house and the veterans' recognition signs on city light posts.

Harbin has served Ward 2 on the city council for 10 years and is also the current mayor pro tem. The 59-year-old is a retiree from the Union Pacific railroad. Harbin has plans to continue work on maintaining the city infrastructure. He'd also like to pursue ordinance enforcement more actively to clean up problem areas in the city. "We're in good shape financially. I'd like to set some money aside to get things cleaned up," Harbin said.

Competing for Akers' position from Ward 1 will be two longtime Villa Grove residents, Lou Ann Butler and Tony Hooker.

Butler, 59, is the custodian at Villa Grove United Methodist Church. She was honored by the city council as Citizen of the Year in 2011 for her involvement in several service projects. "I see things that need to be changed and it's time for some new blood," said Butler. "I am not a 'yes' person."

Hooker said he has always been interested in public service and has volunteered in the town's summer recreation program for the last 17 years. The 48-year-old Navy veteran works for the College of Nursing at the University of Illinois. "I think that we need to continue to work together as a community to support the many things that Villa Grove, as a village, has to offer," Hooker said. He thinks Villa Grove can use "sound public resources" to attract more small business to town.

Mike Greifenkamp is running unopposed for the open position in Ward 2. Greifenkamp, 43, is a computer administrator for the Department of Crop Sciences at the University of Illinois.

Villa Grove school board

The school board ballot will contain all unopposed candidates, with Tim Spannangel and Jim Kestner both seeking re-election to their positions representing the district outside Villa Grove city limits. Cassandra Eversole-Gunter is unopposed for the vacant seat representing the district inside of Villa Grove city limits. Greg Gulick will not pursue a second term.

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