Bement will have a new village board president after Mollie Stevens opted not to run for another term April 9. Two current village board candidates — Patrick Tieman and Gerald Manint — will face each other in the election for village board president.
Tieman, 49, has served on the Bement Village Board for two years, and prior to that was a member of the village zoning board. He is the owner and operator of Salon 101 in Bement.
Why are you running for office? I was raised in Bement, and throughout the years, I have witnessed firsthand the economic ups and downs which have affected our community. I have a desire to see Bement thrive and prosper, and I believe I possess the skills and knowledge to be an effective leader.
What is the biggest issue or issues in this election? Bement, like other small communities, faces many issues in an era of government cutbacks and economic crisis. While many other communities have seen their schools forced into consolidation or closure, Bement schools have survived intact. I am a proponent of maintaining a strong school system, which I believe to be the foundation of a thriving small-town economy. Bement needs to be an enticing place to raise a family, and if we can grow our population it would further strengthen our economy which in turn would boost the quality of life for all.
What is the first thing you would do after being elected? I would implement a strategic plan to cultivate and promote the unique assets of Bement in order to foster stability and growth. I would mobilize the knowledge, talents, and perspectives of all segments of the community: village leaders, school leaders, business owners, community organizations and residents.
If elected, what would you like to accomplish during your term? It is important that we maintain our current businesses and find ways to entice new business owners to move to Bement. I want to formulate a plan for working with leaders of neighboring communities to share successful ideas. As new families move to town, I would like to make sure that the village president personally welcomes them to our community. I am also dedicated to the continued safety and well-being of residents.
As a village trustee, I spearheaded implementation of an emergency notification system called GroupCast that alerts residents by phone when there are issues with the village water service, such as boil orders. I would like to expand this free service to include other types of village notifications. Making Bement "A Good Place to Call Home" is a venture that we are going to take together as a community. It is not just about what I can do, but about what we can do together.
Manint, 66, is a senior electrical designer. He is a current village board member, having served for 14 out of the past 32 years on the board.
Why are you running for office? I am running for the office of Bement village president in order to provide the village with the experience and leadership required to promote community growth, through the retention of existing jobs and the creation of additional employment, housing and recreational opportunities within the community. Equally important is the evaluation and upgrading of the existing infrastructure, i.e. water distribution system, wastewater collection and pumping system, wastewater treatment facility, storm water collection system, as well as sidewalk replacement and street maintenance. These facilities vary from 45 to 100 years in age and require immediate attention.
What is the biggest issue or issues in this election? While the previously stated issues are extremely and equally important, the key underlying issue is the fiscal or economic health of the community, or the lack of growth in the community. Bement is not the community that it was 30 to 40 years ago with five gas stations, two grocery stores, a drugstore, two doctors, a lumber yard, three petroleum bulk plants and four restaurants. It now has one gas station, one grocery store, and three restaurants. Our school student population is at an all-time low as there is no longer an abundance of local or rural families with large numbers of children to populate our school system. The solution to the problem lies in the retention of existing jobs and the creation of more jobs within the community. The logic is simple and straightforward. More jobs equals more families, equals more kids and state funding for our schools, equals the need for existing or more new housing and resultant property tax revenue for our schools and our community, equals an increase in spending in our community, equals more state sales tax revenue for our community, equals a need for additional retail businesses in our community, equals more sales tax revenue for our community, allowing our community to develop and grow. Nothing wrong with that!
What is the first thing that you would do after being elected? The first thing I would do after being elected is to thank God for the opportunity to help the village of Bement to grow and it's citizen's to prosper. In conjunction with this act I will establish office hours. To my knowledge this is something that has never occurred in the village. Since I am in a position of semi-retirement, I see no reason why the village president who is a public servant, should not be available to all citizens of our community, to answer their questions and listen to their concerns. After all, the citizens are our community.
If elected, what would you like to accomplish during your term? During my term in office I will be extremely gratified to be able to attack the issues relative to the growth of our community, and the upgrading of our communities' infrastructure, and see marked improvement in these areas.