O'Fallon Progress

Shiloh trustee Mark Kurtz not seeking re-election; mayor seeks to retain his position

Shiloh Trustee Mark Kurtz
Shiloh Trustee Mark Kurtz

Shiloh village Trustee Mark Kurtz has decided not to see re-election. However, Shiloh Mayor Jim Vernier seeks to retain his position as mayor.

The Village of Shiloh has several elected positions up for grabs on April 4, 2017. Shiloh has the position of mayor open for re-election this year as well as two trustee positions. Petitions have been available at village hall since Sept. 20.

“We’ve only had three people pick up packets so far and those are from the three incumbents, (Mayor Jim) Vernier, Trustees Mark Kurtz and Bob Weilmuenster,” said Brenda Kern, village clerk.

Kurtz said he wasn’t picking up packets for himself, but rather for others who are interested in running. He declined to give the names of the interested individuals.

“I’m not running at all. There are several reasons why. There need to be changes in Shiloh. I’ve been one against six on the board for a long time — the past three years especially, one vote against six hasn’t made and isn’t going to make any changes,” Kurtz said.

Elected to the board of trustees initially in 2002, Kurtz said this will be the end of his second four-year term serving as Shiloh trustee. Prior to that, he served on the planning commission for about six years.

“I’ve been involved with Shiloh politics since the mid-to-late 1990s. We need to get some new faces on the board. People need to get in there and pick up packets to run,” Kurtz said.

Vernier said he was not aware that Kurtz was not running for re-election.

“I have always thought, since I was a trustee even, many years ago that a trustee is supposed to have the very best of the community at heart. I like to see trustees who care,” Vernier said.

Vernier admitted he had difficulty over the years understanding why Kurtz voted the way he did on some issues.

“But, irregardless, I wish him well,” Vernier said.

Kurtz said, “Jim (Vernier) has had five people to vote with him all the time anyway, and my opinions of how we should be handling things are a lot different than that of the mayor’s.”

“It’s time for me to use my skills in ventures with those who are like minded. I’ve worked with Missouri non-profits for years and am an advocate for the elderly.”

Kurtz said he anticipates moving to Missouri within the next two or three years.

“The state of Illinois is taking away too much of my money in taxes, and I think I can do more good over there,” Kurtz said.

“Mostly because there are boards in Missouri that have expressed interest in me participating, but I have to be a Missouri resident to do so,” he said.

Weathering a significant storm in recent years with a stalled economy and growing debt in Illinois, Vernier said now Shiloh has a bright future ahead with the announcement of four major areas of development this year.

“With the new Memorial Hospital East, and the BJC Healthcare Medical Office Building underway on the campus too, there are other upcoming developments under review like the Summit at Shiloh off Lebanon Avenue and Hartman Lakes off of Hartman Lane, not to mention the pending sale of the Three Springs at Shiloh development to Dierbergs Markets Inc.,” Vernier said. “I’m very encouraged about it.”

“I’ve grown up and lived in Shiloh my entire life and have watched it grow. When I see farm fields being developed, it breaks my heart, but it’s progress we can’t stop. We need to be sure we are acquiring the very best quality developments — ones we can be proud of it, and embrace it for the good it’ll do and that’s been my goal all along,” he said.

Like everyone else, Vernier said he makes mistakes too.

“But I’m running for re-election, and I hope the public are able to see that despite my mistakes, my intentions and goals have always been in the best interest of Shiloh and it’s people,” he said.

Elected to the board in 2014, Trustee Greg O’Neil said he had no clue of his fellow trustee Kurtz’ intentions.

“I’m shocked, really. I can’t believe it,” O’Neil said.

Weilmuenster said he is not planning on running for mayor, but is hoping to be re-elected as trustee again.

“I’ll have to see who runs, and I’m just here to listen to the people’s voices and try to vote for the people who have concerns,” Weilmuenster said.

Kurtz said accountability for elected officials in Shiloh has been overlooked for years, and he hopes his removal from office will “spur change.”

“I really hope we get some people who will run for Shiloh office,” he said. “People who will speak their mind and make others on the board think hard about the decisions being made.”

Robyn L. Kirsch: 618-239-2690, @BND_RobynKirsch