Metro-East News

‘Belleville lost a good advocate’: Alderwoman Janet Schmidt dies suddenly

Belleville Alderwoman Janet Schmidt on May 1, 2013, the day she and other new aldermen and city leaders were sworn in at the Belleville City Council meeting.
Belleville Alderwoman Janet Schmidt on May 1, 2013, the day she and other new aldermen and city leaders were sworn in at the Belleville City Council meeting. tvizer@bnd.com

The husband of Belleville Ward 2 Alderwoman Janet Schmidt said she will be remembered for her passionate support for the city.

“I think the people of Belleville lost a good advocate,” Rick Schmidt said of his wife who died Monday night.

“She loved her city and she loved her job,” Rick Schmidt said Tuesday. “She wanted Belleville to grow. That’s why she voted for the Shrine (development.) That’s why she voted for a lot of things.”

Janet Schmidt, 56, voted for a series of tax incentives that paved the way for a restaurant, hotel, convention center and sports complex valued at more than $100 million off Illinois 15 across from The National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows.

It’s unbelievably too young to lose somebody. Especially someone with the passion to do good for the people around her.

Mayor Mark Eckert

“It’s a tremendous shock to us,” Mayor Mark Eckert said. “She was very loyal about doing city business. She studied every issue and asked a lot of questions. I was very pleased with her participation and her effort to work for the citizens and for Belleville.

“It’s unbelievably too young to lose somebody,” Eckert said. “Especially someone with the passion to do good for the people around her.”

Eckert said Rick Schmidt called about 5:30 p.m. Monday to ask that his wife be excused from a special City Council meeting because she wasn’t feeling well.

“Then at about 8:30 or 8:45 (p.m.) we got the terrible news that she passed away” at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, Eckert said. Her family said she died of an apparent heart attack.

Eckert said he knew Schmidt suffered some health issues recently. City leaders didn’t know how serious they were.

“Janet has missed a few meetings because of health issues over the past year or so,” Eckert said. “But I never had any idea of the extent.”

GUEST BOOK: Express your condolences to the family of Janet Schmidt

Schmidt was in her first term on the City Council.

Schmidt’s ward includes Lindenwood University-Belleville, which faced criticism this fall when school leaders applied for special-use permits for students to live in homes and apartment buildings near the West Main Street campus. Schmidt was a vocal supporter of Lindenwood’s plan, which was approved 11-5 by the City Council on Nov. 2.

“I think Lindenwood has been a good neighbor and done a lot for that area,” Schmidt told the council before the 16 aldermen voted.

On her Facebook page, Schmidt said she was an “independent liberal Democrat.”

“I think she was a good person. She believed in what she was doing and I have a lot of respect for that,” said Mike Buettner, who serves as the other Ward 2 alderman.

Buettner, who was one of the aldermen to vote against Lindenwood’s student housing plan, acknowledged that he and Schmidt did not always see “eye to eye,” but that this was “not a time to talk politics.”

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family,” said Buettner, who met with Rick Schmidt Tuesday morning.

Janet Schmidt narrowly was elected to serve Ward 2 in April 2013.

Janet Schmidt was elected to the council in April 2013 when she ran as an independent and narrowly defeated Good Government incumbent Dorothy Meyer.

Eckert said it was too early to say who would be appointed to fill Schmidt’s term, which would end in 2017.

Along with her husband, Schmidt is survived by two sons, a daughter and a granddaughter.

The visitation will be 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday at George Renner and Sons Funeral Home at 120 N. Illinois St. in Belleville. A memorial service will be at 7:30 p.m. following visitation.

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