Name: C. Richard Vernier
Immediate family members: Daughters Megan, Ali.
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Office sought: St. Clair County Board Member - District 9
Party affiliation: Democrat
Previous elected positions and years served: County Board member for 20 years.
Why are you running?: I have lived in this community all my life and firmly believe in being involved. I have served on the Citizens Park Board and was a founding member of the Citizens Park Softball League. I was also an officer in the Belleville Jaycees, and a member of the pool committee and trustee of the Belleville Elks. I served on the school board, athletic and building and grounds committee of St. Augustine. I was also involved in the school picnic, parish picnic, as well as most food related fund raisers. I, along with both of my girl, am an Alumni Catholic High School. I have been active with various fund raisers at the school as well. I am a member of the Belleville West End Promotional Committee. I proudly serve as Chairman of the Transportation Committee, Vice Chairman of Intergovernmental Grants and member of the executive, emergency readiness, and economic development committees. I want to continue to do my part to help the county to continue to thrive.
What is the biggest issue facing St. Clair County, and how should elected officials and county staff approach it?: The lack of a budget for the United States and The State of Illinois is hindering the progress we are striving for in most of the committees I am involved with, in particular the transportation committee. We continue to strive to improve our roadways but the lack of federal and state funds we are due makes it tough to do in a timely fashion.
What are your views on MidAmerica Airport, and how should the county handle the future of the airport?: Mid-America is a very complex issue. As the airport is not at this time a profitable venture it is slowly closing the gap. In excess of 120,000 passengers have gone thru the terminal this year to date. Boeing Aircraft and North Bay Produce have proved to be successful and have created jobs. In addition jet fuel sales have increased as other aircraft stop (to fill up). Recently you may have noticed several 747 Cargo Planes which hold 100,000 gallons of fuel each. I know many feel we should simply give the airport back to the government. It is not that easy. We would be required to repay the federal government in excess of $300 million. We are striving to do our best (to play the hand we were dealt). We all now the turmoil that exists in the airport/airline industry today. We continue to strive to turn the corner of profitability. That being said, “without Mid-America Airport, Scott Air Force Base would have been closed by BRAC, according to Four Star General Duncan McNabb head of Transcom in his Annual Congressional Report.” The $3 billion + annual contribution to the economy along with 13,000 direct employees would be lost. This to me helps soften the economic blow to the county in order to save the largest employer in Southern Illinois.
What improvements do you want to see in how the county is run?: We at the county have strived to keep a balanced budget by paring down the number of employees by over 10% over the last ten years thru attrition and advanced technology. In doing so we have kept county government’s share of taxes to less than 10 cent on the dollar. Remember we only collect the taxes.
Do you plan to serve the full term of office?: I plan to serve the entire term if elected and run again in four years God willing.
Why should people vote for you?: I would hope voters would support me so I can help lead the Transportation Dept to complete the current road improvements and those planned. These include but are not limited to widening Frank Scott Parkway from 159 to Green Mount Road, widening Green Mount Road from Highway 15 to I-64 and extending Frank Scott from Lincoln Street to 158. We will also continue to maintain our present infrastructure and improve it as quickly as money permits.