The three new aldermen seated Monday on the O’Fallon City Council are no strangers to the community.
Mayor Herb Roach said he recommended former aldermen John Drolet in Ward 1, John Distler in Ward 4 and Christopher Monroe in Ward 5 for the three vacancies because of their civic experience. They will serve until the April 2 election.
“The three new people bring with them a history of prior involvement in the community. They have all been elected to different positions in the past by our citizens,” he said.
Roach said he also wanted people who have experience handling finances.
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“It is important since we will be developing the city budget over the next four months,” he said. “All three also have a good background in handling public and private finances. I think both are important traits for anyone serving on the city council to have.”
The council unanimously approved all three appointments. The vacancies were the result in former aldermen Richie Meile in Ward 1 and Matthew Smallheer in Ward 4 being elected to the St. Clair County Board in November, and Ward 5 Alderman Andrew Lopinot being elected county treasurer.
The three aldermen appointments were the most at one time in the city’s history.
Distler and Drolet will serve until two new aldermen, to be elected April 2, are sworn in at the May 6 council meeting.
Distler previously served on the council in the 1980s. Drolet previously served as a two-term alderman in Ward 4 from 2007 to 2015. Drolet is the son of Alderman Ned Drolet, who is not seeking re-election after two terms spanning 14 years in Ward 6.
Drolet, who operates Gifts For Individuals , an advertising and promotional products business in O’Fallon, said he is serving to accomplish the work that needs to be done.
“I’m primarily going to be focused on budgets and other issues that may come up over the next four months,” Drolet said.
Monroe is seeking election for Lopinot’s unexpired two-year term. He filed the necessary paperwork and petitions by the Dec. 17 deadline to be the sole candidate on the municipal election ballot.
Monroe previously served on the Central District 104 School Board. A Marine veteran, he is an account manager with ECHO Incorporated and an independent distributor with AdvoCare.
“The only one of the three that will be on the ballot in April is Mr. Monroe because he is running unopposed,” Roach said.
Even though 14 other people – a record number – are running for the council in April, Roach said he was not inclined to select from that pool of candidates in contested races.
“While there are many qualified candidates that have registered to run in the April election, I didn’t think it was proper to appoint someone that will be running with opposition in the April election. I believe that this would give that individual an unfair advantage in the election,” he said.
“Our citizens will make the choice in the April election as to who they believe has the best knowledge and experience to serve them and the city,” he said.
Sixteen people had initially filed for the eight available spots last month, but a Ward 1 candidate, Catherine McBride, has withdrawn from the race.
There are contested races in all but one of the city’s seven wards.
- In Ward 1, Jessica Gunther and Dennis Muyleart are vying for the spot Drolet is now representing.
- In Ward 2, incumbent Alderman Robert Kueker is challenged by Jessica Lotz.
- In Ward 3, Alderman Kevin Hagarty is unopposed.
- In Ward 4, Sarah Atterberry, Mary-Lynam Mueller and Todd Roach are vying for Smallheer’s opening.
- In Ward 5, incumbent Alderman Gwen Randolph, who was appointed last summer to fill Courtney Marsh’s unexpired term, is seeking the four-year term available, as is former Alderman Chris Hursey.
- In Ward 6, Casey Scharven and Tom Vorce are vying for the spot being vacated by Ned Drolet, who is not seeking re-election after 14 years, taking a break, and rejoining the council in 2015.
- In Ward 7, Nathan Parchman and Brian Gibson are seeking the seat now being held by two-term Alderman David Cozad, who has decided not to run again.
The O’Fallon City Council is comprised of two aldermen each representing one of the seven wards for a total of 14.
The 2019 election will result in the council’s biggest turnover yet, with nearly half new representatives.
“When you look at the fact that we appointed one council member last year to replace the resignation of Mrs. Marsh and that we will have at least five new council members elected in April, it is extremely important that our citizens find out who are the best candidates with the best knowledge and experience,” Roach said..
On Tuesday, Jan. 15, the city staff will host an informational meeting to share with the candidates major issues facing O’Fallon and the general structure of city government.
This meeting will provide an opportunity for candidates to learn about the city and ask questions before they begin knocking on doors and talking to voters,” Roach said.
“Once the election is over, we have training scheduled that will help the new, and returning city council members, quickly get to the business of moving O’Fallon forward,” he said.
One main goal in the coming months is to finalize the city budget for the new fiscal year.
During the next few months, the city will hold annual budget meetings.
“These days, it seems that the budget process lasts year-round. However, over the next few months the process intensifies while city staff prepares the annual budget and presents it to the council for input and approval,” Roach said.
“When all is said and done, the budget will have been presented to each city council committee and the general public. The annual budget must be balanced and be approved by the council prior to the beginning of the new fiscal year on May 1,” he said.