'Hard to replace that kind of knowledge': Mayor says farewell to city clerk and treasurer

News-DemocratMay 1, 2013 

— The past month has been bittersweet for those who have worked with outgoing Belleville elected officials whose terms expired this week.

Mayor Mark Eckert said the city is losing two dedicated public servants: Linda Fields as city clerk and Jerry Turner as city treasurer.

Fields and Turner were not re-elected in the April 9 municipal election.

"I'm still really trying to get hold of the idea that they won't be here every day after May 1," Eckert said. "I'm truly going to miss both of them."

Eckert said Fields and Turner were great colleagues who became great friends and advisers to him.

Eckert has said he intends to appoint Fields as the first woman serving on the city's Board of Police and Fire Commissioners.

Fields' career spans the administrations of five Belleville mayors, including Eckert.

"She knows a lot about City Hall," Eckert said. "It's hard to replace that kind of knowledge."

She was an employee in the city clerk and city treasurer offices from 1978 until she was elected city clerk in 1997.

In 1978, Eckert met Fields because he would often go to City Hall to get death certificates for his work with an ambulance company and funeral home.

The same year Fields was elected clerk, Eckert and Turner were elected aldermen. Turner served as alderman until 2004 and then served as city treasurer after that.

Turner was Eckert's principal when Eckert was at Belleville West.

"He was somebody I always looked up to," Eckert said.

Eckert said Turner has been professional and steadfast, improving the city's sewer and trash collections rate while still being compassionate to residents who had hardships paying their bills in the bad economy.

"He was here like clockwork everyday," Eckert said.

The other outgoing officials include Ward 2 Alderwoman Dorothy Meyer, Ward 3 Alderman Rob Anderson, Ward 4 Alderman Dean Hardt, Ward 4 Alderman Tim Carpenter, Ward 6 Alderman Dave Martinson and Ward 7 Alderman Phil Elmore.

Hardt was elected city treasurer and will continue to serve on the council.

Meyer and Carpenter may still contest their election results because they lost by two votes and three votes, respectively. They could not be reached for comment.

Elmore, who was elected alderman in 2009, ran unsuccessfully for mayor last month against Eckert.

"We are still proud he went after his dreams," Elmore's wife, Barb, said. "We all stand behind what he believes in."

At a council meeting after the election, resident Mary Smith publicly thanked Elmore for all that he did for Ward 7 and its residents.

Elmore, an insurance agent in Belleville, said he will miss his public service duties. One of his pet projects, to see a dog park built at Rotary Park in Belleville, will likely be realized this summer.

Of the outgoing officials, Fields, Turner, Meyer, Anderson and Martinson are part of Eckert's Belleville Good Government Party. The other candidates are independents.

Eckert said he did not want to talk about losing Meyer because the election results could still change.

Eckert said Anderson and Martinson were both outstanding aldermen.

Eckert said residents recently stopped him to say that Anderson was a responsive aldermen and they can't believe he won't be representing them anymore.

Eckert said that when he first asked Martinson to run for office, Martinson was taken aback.

"I told him, 'I need people like you,'" Eckert said.

Martinson said he wanted to give a sincere thank you to the residents he served in Ward 6.

Martinson, who retired as Belleville fire chief after serving the department for 30 years, said he will have more time to improve his golf game now that he no longer has to attend City Council and aldermanic committee meetings.

Martinson said he has been talking to newly elected Ward 6 Alderman Bob White and helping him transition into the position.

Martinson said he appreciated the note his opponent wrote him after the April 9 election and that White is energetic and will be "a good replacement."

Contact reporter Jacqueline Lee at jlee@bnd.com or 239-2655. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/BNDBelleville.

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