Danville's longtime mayor says he's 'prepared to move on'

Danville's longtime mayor says he's 'prepared to move on'

DANVILLE — After 16 years as mayor of Danville, Scott Eisenhauer is looking for a new opportunity, maybe even one that takes him beyond his hometown.

"The prudent thing for me to do at this point is look at other opportunities," said Eisenhauer, 53, a lifelong Danville resident.

Last week, a group of private citizens — calling itself Moving Danville Forward — announced a petition drive to put on the Nov. 6 ballot a question asking city voters if they want to change their form of government from mayor-council to city manager-council. That means the current mayor's position — a full-time gig with a $73,000 annual salary — would become a part-time job.

If it comes to that, Eisenhauer isn't interested.

"All I'm saying is I want to at least look at what opportunities might exist, if in fact this position is eliminated," said Eisenhauer, who added that he wants to stay involved in advocating for local government, either at the state level or for another municipality.

"The reality of it is I love local government. ... And if there's no opportunity for me to do that in this community, I would have to open myself up to going outside the community."

While he's against changing the form of government, Eisenhauer said he won't be the "face of the opposition," either.

"It's no secret. I oppose the change in government. I do so simply because I believe it's in the best interest of this community for the citizens as a whole to elect their CEO, rather than conceding that power to a group of 14" aldermen, he said prior to Tuesday night's Danville City Council meeting.

Under a city manager form of government, there would still be 14 aldermen — two each elected from seven wards — who would hire a city manager after a search process. A mayor would still be elected but would not oversee day-to-day operations of local government. The city manager would.

A mayoral election will be held next spring, and the deadline to file paperwork to be a candidate is after the Nov. 6 election. So Eisenhauer wouldn't have to file to run for the office before knowing whether it will be a full-time or part-time job.

If another job opportunity doesn't come along before the election, Eisenhauer said he will decide if he's running for a fifth term after the November referendum, assuming organizers get the question on the ballot.

"If, in fact, the referendum fails, that's when I will make the decision," he said. "All I'm saying is I need to be prepared and willing to seek another employment opportunity. So I'm prepared to move on."

Pat O'Shaughnessy, one of the organizers with Moving Danville Forward, said the idea has been well-received.

"The statements by those that think our efforts are to reduce representation in any ward in this great city are totally false and nothing but distraction to the professional and experienced help that the future demands for our children and grandchildren," O'Shaughnessy said.

Eisenhauer, who was not involved in getting the grass-roots group going, said some community members are mistaken to think this movement is about him becoming city manager.

"I have zero interest in serving as the city manager in this community," he said. "No question, that's what I'm doing now. The difference is the autonomy I have now as the mayor that I would not have as a city manager, who would be accountable only to 14 aldermen.

"What I like about the position I have now is I'm accountable to the public as a whole, and at the end of the day, it's the public who gets to decide whether I continue."

Moving Danville Forward organizers have said they envision a search that extends beyond Danville and a strong pool of experienced candidates.

Eisenhauer said he doesn't want people to misconstrue his opposition as him "merely trying to save" his job and hopes Danville residents focus on what's best for the city as a whole.

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