Metro-East News

Wood River mayor dies suddenly; council will select interim replacement

The Wood River City Council will select an interim mayor soon, following the sudden death of Mayor Fred Ufert.

Ufert, 65, died Wednesday after emergency surgery. Ufert had complained of back pain on Monday, and subsequent medical attention discovered that he had suffered an aortic aneurysm.

City manager Jim Schneider said the city’s staff was “devastated” by Ufert’s death.

“Fred was a part-time mayor who didn’t have to come in every day, but he was here bright and early at 8 a.m. every morning,” Schneider said. “He had a great attitude and he truly loved Wood River.”

Schneider said Ufert would help anyone at any hour, taking phone calls even at home at midnight. He had served as mayor of Wood River for a decade. “He wanted to see Wood River prosper,” he said.

For the immediate future, Councilwoman Cheryl Maguire is the mayor pro tem. Soon, the council will nominate someone, probably one of their own, to take over as mayor, and the rest of the council would affirm the choice, Schneider said.

After that, the five-seat council has two options: they can continue to operate as a four-seat council, or the new mayor can nominate someone to fill the empty council seat.

It is too late for the new mayor to run in the April election, Schneider said. Therefore, the new mayor will serve until the next municipal election in two years.

Related stories from Belleville News-Democrat