TILTON — The field of candidates has thinned in the Democratic primary for Vermilion County Board in District 5 after longtime incumbent Corky Nightlinger pulled his name from consideration earlier this month.
But three other Democrats are still in the race, and two will move on from Tuesday's primary to the general election in November. Two seats are open in District 5, which includes Tilton, portions of Belgium and Westville and a portion of south Danville.
Nightlinger's name will still appear on the ballot, but the three candidates in the running are incumbent John Criswell of Tilton, who has been on the board almost four years, and challengers Chad Turner, a Danville police officer, and Jim Watson, a retiree who served two terms on the county board several years ago.
Criswell said he tries to do what's best for the people and is not afraid to vote "no" on issues. He said he tries to save the people money and is against any tax increases.
"You don't order prime rib when you can only afford hamburger," said Criswell, who added that with proper budgeting, the county can control a lot of its spending. He doesn't support changing the wind farm ordinance again and does not support selling the county's 100-plus acres of farmland. Criswell said income from the land can be used to pay off bonds that could fund other things in the county.
Turner, who is the city police officer assigned to South View Middle School, said his family has been in local politics for generations, and with a few years as Danville Township trustee, the county board seems like the next step. Turner said important issues in his district include finishing improvements to 14th Street, making improvements to other streets and developing the business corridor along Georgetown Road.
He said he does not favor tax increases, but knows that expenses like employee health insurance and wages continue to increase each year.
"You can't maintain where you are at with the budget you had 10-15 years ago," said Turner, who added that it's easier to raise taxes 2 percent every couple years, for example, rather than 10 percent all at once. "People can't absorb that."
Turner said he would make a good board member, because he interacts with the public every day through his job, has lived here his whole life and knows the area well, has some political experience already, and it's easy for people to talk to him.
Watson, who served on the board for two terms in the 1990s, said he's running again because the county sold the nursing home last year and still raised property taxes this year. The county no longer levies a property tax for the nursing home after selling the facility to a private company, but the board still passed an overall levy that was an increase over last year's levy.
Watson said the taxpayers should have had tax relief from the nursing home. In regard to possibly changing the county's wind farm ordinance, Watson said what's done is done. He said the county is financially stable and now needs to work on maintaining it.
MEET THE CANDIDATES
John L. Criswell
Address: 506 Brentwood, Tilton.
Occupation: Retired, Hyster Co.
Political experience: In fourth year on Vermilion County Board.
Education: U.S. Army veteran.
Address: 2001 Batestown Road, Danville.
Occupation: Danville police officer.
Political experience: Danville township trustee.
Education: Bachelor's in psychology from Illinois State University.
Robert 'Jim' Watson
Address: 1525 Lincoln St., Tilton.
Occupation: Retired, Hyster Co.
Political experience: Served as Vermilion County Board member for eight years.
Education: Attended Danville Area Community College.