Metro-East News

Alderman missed more than half of 2017 City Council meetings. Now he wants to be state rep.

David Friess, a Republican, is challenging Jerry Costello II in the 116th District.
David Friess, a Republican, is challenging Jerry Costello II in the 116th District. Provided photo

During the first two years David Friess served as a Red Bud alderman, he consistently attended City Council meetings and his assigned committee meetings.

In 2015, Friess was present at 36 meetings and missed only two.

In 2016, he missed a few more, attending 34 meetings and missing 18, according to city minutes.

But in 2017, he missed half of the City Council meetings and more than half of his assigned committee meetings, according to a review of City Council minutes listed on the city's website.

Now Friess, a Republican who is a local attorney who once ran to be the Randolph County state's attorney, is seeking to unseat state Rep. Jerry Costello II, D-Smithton, in November's election.

According to the Belleville News-Democrat review, Friess in 2017, was listed as present at 26 City Council or committee meetings. He was listed absent at 28 meetings he was assigned to attend.

Friess is a member of the city's finance, public health and safety, and personnel committees.

"Unlike with Jerry Costello, politics isn't part of my family business," Friess said in a statement to the BND. "I had a number of unavoidable family and business commitments in 2017 that conflicted with council meetings."

In Red Bud, the full City Council meets the first Monday of each month. During the third Monday of the month, the council has its individual committee meetings. Even though a council member may not be assigned to a particular committee, he or she may still participate during discussions, said Red Bud Mayor Tim Lowry.

Lowry said the City Council, which has eight members, and its committees can still conduct routine business with one council member missing.

“If you want to participate as an alderman, you want to be at the meeting to know what’s going on, to stay current with what’s going on,” Lowry said.

Costello, who has served in the Illinois House since July 2011, questioned whether Friess would be able to commit to being a legislator.

"If you can’t make a commitment to go to a job and represent taxpayers in the town that he lives in, makes me wonder how he would represent people in Springfield when he has to drive two hours back and forth,” Costello said.

During the 2017-18 sessions, Costello was listed as present on 92 regular legislative days. He was not present on four days, according to General Assembly records. During the 2015-2016 sessions, Costello was listed as present on 118 regular legislative days, and not present on two days.

The 116th House District, which Costello represents and Friess hopes to win, covers all of Monroe and Randolph counties, and parts of Perry and St. Clair counties.

"What's important for voters to know is that I was working hard in the real world, while Jerry Costello was taking $200,000 from Mike Madigan's political groups and voting to make him speaker," Friess said.

Related stories from Belleville News-Democrat