A central member of the Madison County Republican Committee is taking the party’s County Board member with the second-longest tenure in the March 15 GOP Primary.
Philip W. Chapman of Highland, vice president of the county’s Republican Party, is challenging William S. “Bill” Meyer of Hamel, who has represented portions of northeastern Madison County on the County Board for the last 15 years. Judy Kuhn of Highland, who has been on the board since 1998, is the only Republican with more seniority.
Meyer, an insurance agent, was first elected to the board in 2000 in a district that previously had Democratic representation for decades and has beaten all Democratic challengers. But Chapman, a retired chaplain, said he is running against Meyer in the primary, because he thinks the incumbent votes too much like a member of the other party.
County Board District 3 is U-shaped and includes Hamel, Worden, Prairietown, Williamson, New Douglas and Grantfork, as well as rural areas in northeastern Madison County.
“Some say my opponent, Bill Meyer, a long-time establishment incumbent, appears to have lost his way. Many Republicans think he has ‘R’ after his name but votes like a ‘D.’ His voting record proves he’s continually sided with big-spending board members,” Chapman said.
Meyer said he and his family have been registered Republicans “all their lives,” and he has always been a conservative voice on the board.
“As a member of the Madison County Board, I have applied my conservative principles to achieve better results for our citizens,” Meyer said.
“His votes say otherwise,” said Chapman. “I’m reminded of the adage: ‘What you do speaks so loudly I can’t hear a single word you say.’”
Chapman said Meyer’s votes to increase county fees and in favor of bonds to renovate the county jail were the opposite of conservatism.
“In contrast, I worked with your fellow citizens circulating petitions, writing letters, and collected 23,000 signatures in 30 days to place the jail bond issue on the ballot. Republican and Democrat voters rejected the issue two to one,” Chapman said.
“The voters overturned the County Board’s decision, but regardless, we still have to make repairs to the jail complex,” Meyer said. “Now we are doing it with our current funds, but in three or four stages, which may or may not cost more money over the next 10 years.”
Meyer said he has worked to lower taxes while making county government live within its means.
“From working to lower the county’s portion of our citizen’s property tax bills, like the 2.3 percent reduction for 2016, to insisting the county operates within its means with a balanced budget, I have worked effectively to make Madison County a model of financial restraint and responsible spending,” he said.
Chapman said the recent tax cut was “little more than an election year gimmick,” that wouldn’t amount to enough “to take your spouse to Friday night dinner.”
Chapman said, if elected, he wants to immediately cut the county’s tax levy 10 percent, and he wants a referendum to reduce the General Fund levy 20 percent, or a total of $2.3 million.
Meyer said Chapman’s tax cut proposal would only amount to about $36 to a person who had a total tax bill of $4,000.
Chapman also wants to conduct audits to identify and eliminate “government waste.”
Meyer said the county already has two auditors, an elected auditor, and an outside firm, Scheffel Boyle.
“Each committee reviews its department’s expenditures before presenting them to the Finance Committee, of which the elected auditor is a member of. The committee members work hard to make sure expenditures are both necessary and bids are accurate,” Meyer said.
Meyer said the county is in solid financial shape.
“Madison County is debt free and is in the best financial condition of any county in the state of Illinois,” he said.
Chapman said he also wants to stop the “yearly shuffling of money” from the General Fund to the Capital Growth Fund.
“From 2012 to 2015, the County Board transferred $15.11 million of excess revenues,” Chapman said.
Meyer, chairman of the Planning & Development Committee and a member of the Finance, Executive, Transportation and Grants committees, said the county has funded many important projects in his corner of the county.
“In the last 15 years of my service to District 3, the Republican Party has been in the super minority. Therefore, in order to bring projects to District 3, you must work together, as Republicans and Democrats,” Meyer said. “During my time of service, I have been able to secure over $15 million in road improvements to District 3, several grants for fire departments, and each village with a park has access to $15,000 each year, if they apply. In addition, any village or fire department that asks can get a free police car courtesy of the county and myself.”
Rodney Dustmann of Worden is the other Republican candidate running. He could not be reached for comment.
About Phil Chapman
Education: Bachelor’s in LAS from the University of Illinois, master’s in criminal justice from the University of South Carolina, doctorate from the Chicago Theological Seminary.
Work History: Ordained minister for 37 years and served as a chaplain in federal service for 29 years.
Military Service: Nine years as chaplain in the U.S. Army, achieving the rank of captain.
Memberships: Currently serves as chaplain and is on the Color Guard for American Legion Post 439 Highland. He is also a member of the Madison County Emergency Response Team (CERT) and Madison County Medical Reserve Corps (MCMRC).
Political Experience: Elected vice chairman of the Madison County Republican Party and has served as a Saline 3 precinct committeeman for four years.
Family: Married to Melissa Snyder Chapman for 31 years. They have four children and eight grandchildren.
About Bill Meyer
Eduction: Attended St. Paul Lutheran Grade School, graduated from Edwardsville High School and Southern Illinois University.
Work History: Owner/president of W.S. Meyer & Associates Inc. in Hamel, secretary/manager of Hamel Mutual Insurance Co., and is on the board of directors of First National Bank in Staunton.
Military Service: Vietnam veteran, having served in the U.S. Army’s 195th Assault Helicopter Company.
Memberships: St. Paul’s Lutheran Congregation, Worden American Legion Post 564, Edwardsville VFW Post 1299, SOG Special Operations Associations, Southwestern Illinois Law Enforcement Commission executive board.
Political Experience: Served as mayor of Hamel for six years and spent 12 years as a Hamel trustee. He was first elected to the Madison County Board in 2000, where he serves as chairman of the Planning & Development Committee and is also a member of the Finance, Executive, Transportation, and Grants committees.
Family: He and his wife, Amy, a retired teacher in the Bethalto School District, are the parents of three children, the late Jennifer (Mike) Ashauer, Julie (Aaron) Fish and Billie (Guy) Robinson. The couple has six grandchildren.