O'Fallon Progress

Newcomers to give O’Fallon City Council fresh look

Five first-time aldermen, two newly elected aldermen and one returning incumbent will be sworn in to their seats May 6, marking a major transition for the O’Fallon City Council.

Fourteen people were on the ballot for the April 2 municipal election, with races in six wards, and, while it may have been the largest number to step forward to serve in city government, the voter turnout was slight. Several wards recorded 17-18 percent cast ballots.

  • Ward 1: Dennis Muyleart, unopposed (two candidates dropped out: Jessica Gunther and Catherine McBride).
  • Ward 2: Jessica Lotz defeated incumbent alderman Robert Kueker, 286 to 190.
  • Ward 3: Kevin Hagarty won a third term, unopposed;
  • Ward 4: Todd Roach was victorious over two candidates, Mary Lynam-Miller and Sarah Atterberry, with 228 for Roach, 148 for Lynam-Miller and 23 for Atterberry;
  • Ward 5: Appointed aldermen Gwen Randolph defeated former appointed alderman Chris Hursey, for the four-year term, 69-63; and appointed alderman Christopher Monroe was unopposed for the two-year term;
  • Ward 6: Tom Vorce beat Casey Scharven, 176-52; and
  • Ward 7: Nathan Parchman won over Brian Gibson by 45 votes, 254 to 209.

“With seven individuals being elected for the first time, this may be the largest collection of first-time election winners in the city’s history. It is great to see new residents step up in their community,” Mayor Herb Roach said. “O’Fallon is in good hands.”

The mayor said he was surprised with only a small percentage of registered voters casting ballots.

“It was amazing to me that more people would not want to have a say in who governs their city. Some say that because things have been running smoothly and forward that people weren’t as concerned, and that all of our candidates were good, qualified individuals,” he said.

The mayor had been vocal about getting more citizens involved prior to the filing period, because he knew the turnover would be significant.

“I tried to get people interested in participating in our city government and was very pleased with the number of people that did and the quality of those involved,” he said.

Roach noted he was struck by the candidates’ positive approach during the recent campaign.

“One thing that I noticed about this election was that the candidates all conducted themselves in a professional manner. None of them were negative toward the other candidates. This is a breath of fresh air to what we have been accustomed to in recent elections across the country,” he said.

The next few city meetings will be important regarding the transition.

The retiring aldermen include Ned Drolet, who served two terms in Ward 6 for a total of 14 years, first elected in 1999, and David Cozad, who declined to run again. Cozad was appointed in 2009 and elected in 2011 and 2015. Alderman Robert Kueker, who was elected in 2015, lost in his bid for a second term.

The mayor said the men would be honored at their final council meeting Monday.

“I will thank them for their splendid service. Their experience and knowledge will be missed. It is a loss of over 40 years combined experience and leadership,” Roach said.

The mayor appointed three people in January to temporarily fill the vacant seats when Aldermen Andrew Lopinot, Richie Meile and Matt Smallheer were elected to positions in St. Clair County: John Drolet and John Distler said they would not run, only serve temporarily, while Christopher Monroe, in Ward 5, ran unopposed for the remaining two-year term. Drolet and Distler will be acknowledged; Monroe is officially elected to the seat.

On April 29, the mayor is holding a Committee-of-the-Whole meeting at 6 p.m. at the Public Safety building to go over procedures.

City Administrator Walter Denton said they will discuss parliamentary procedure, open meetings, freedom of information, social media and other city policies.

“This meeting is for the entire City Council but is also intended to provide training for the new aldermen,” Denton said.

The mayor said the transition means new energy and fresh, new ideas will be coming.

“The newly elected officials will be working hard to catch up with everything going on. O’Fallon is a progressive community that never stops moving,” he said. “These individuals have stepped up and are willing to make the time and commitment necessary to help lead our city forward into the coming years.”

One of the newly elected aldermen is Roach’s son, Todd. In addressing the matter, the mayor said it isn’t as much conflict as people might think.

“I have only had to vote one time in over 500 votes since becoming mayor,” he said.

Todd Roach, who has served on the District 90 School Board and the O’Fallon Township Board of Trustees, said when people brought up the potential conflict, he noted he would only be one vote out of 14 aldermen. He also joked that if they attended family functions, they would see father and son don’t agree on everything.

“I told them that my one vote wouldn’t necessarily sway things. You need seven votes to get something to a tie,” Todd Roach said.

Several of the incoming aldermen spoke of their desire to serve, their vision for the future and their eagerness to get started.

Muyleart said he looked forward to working with current and newly elected officials to maintain O’Fallon’s success in the future.

“I plan to do so in a financially responsible manner and hopefully keep up the current trend of property tax reduction going forward,” he said.

“O’Fallon has had a long history of excellent local government that has helped O’Fallon to grow and become one of the most desired locations for people to raise families and retire to,” he said.

“There is no level of government that is more directly responsible for serving your community than your local elected officials. Local government can affect almost every aspect of your daily life,” he noted.

“I plan on being easily available, whether that be email, text, call, social media and so forth. I believe as an alderman, you have to get out and talk to the people to really represent them correctly, and that’s what I plan to do,” he said.

“I look forward to the opportunity to be on the City Council and ensure O’Fallon stays on the right track.”

Lotz appreciated the confidence voters expressed in her. She visited 500 homes during her campaign.

“I will work very hard to represent Ward 2,” she said.

She wanted to thank her opponent.

“Mr. Kueker has always been very gracious to me and made this a pleasant experience. I’m very grateful for that and for his decades of service to O’Fallon and our schools,” he said.

Returning Ward 3 Alderman Kevin Hagarty is ready to hit the ground running.

“I’m always eager to serve. I’m looking forward to the 158-Reider Road development getting started. It’s exciting for the schools, to get the tax abatements,” he said.

“And also the infrastructure work on the presidential streets and across Lincoln in Ward 3 near Wolfersberger,” he said.

Hagarty said he welcomed phone calls from residents and appreciated opportunities to talk to them.

“It’s good feedback. I’m a people person. I like to talk to as many people as I can,” he said. “Matt Gilreath and I have a Ward 3 meeting coming up next week (April 16).”

Todd Roach said he visited with many residents during the campaign. He grew up in Ward 4.

“It was a pretty exciting experience to learn different things,” he said. “The general issue is taxes and in particular areas, people living near Jamestown have back-up drainage sometimes. And people want a stoplight on Vincennes Trail.”

Another concern is students do not have a sidewalk to use on U.S. 50 near the First Baptist Church, and for those who don’t take the bus, it’s a safety issue.

“That’s one of the biggest problems,” he said.

He wanted to keep lines of communication open, and he plans to hold Ward 4 meetings “to keep everybody informed.

“O’Fallon is a great place and there are great opportunities before the city to make it an even better place to live,” Todd Roach said.

As far as the recent campaign, he noted he and his opponent, Lynam-Miller, had shared their goals with each other.

“We both agreed to take a positive approach and we ran positive campaigns,” he said.

Parchman said he was excited about the opportunities he will have to positively impact O’Fallon. His goal is to “keep O’Fallon moving.”

Parchman said he has talked with fellow Ward 7 alderman Dan Witt and they plan to attend many Homeowners Association meetings together to hear from residents.

“I will have an open-door policy. People want to see their aldermen more,” he said.

When he was knocking on doors, he heard about residents’ issues with snowplow removal on the edges of the ward.

“Our biggest struggle is how fast we’re growing and to make sure we don’t outgrow our infrastructure. People want to be in O’Fallon. If we’re growing so quickly, we will have problems,” he said.

“I want to make sure that I am up to date and can cast an educated vote. I value opinions — and will encourage different ones,” he said.

As for the campaign, Parchman said he appreciated he and Gibson did not sling mud.

“We talked before the forum. He’s a really good guy and I have a lot of respect for him,” he said.

The mayor has asked each incoming aldermen to select five committees they would like to possibly serve on, and he will then make his decisions on appointments.