Candidate profile: M. Joe Semanisin

Get ready for the 2018 Election

Voters in Belleville and Southern Illinois have several important decisions to make on Nov. 6.
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Voters in Belleville and Southern Illinois have several important decisions to make on Nov. 6.

Name: M. Joe Semanisin

Office seeking: Madison County Board Dist. 27

Party: Democrat

Age: 73, a hard worker and still going strong!

City of residence: Maryville, IL

Campaign website: Follow me on Facebook @voteforjoesemi

Why are you running and why should people vote for you? I’m seeking election to Madison County Board District #27 because I want to serve and represent all people. My wife, Diane, and I were both born and raised here along with our two children, who also still reside in Madison County. I have a passion for making our community an excellent place for raising families and wanting successful growth for future generations. I’m a civic-minded individual who enjoys giving back. Over the years, I’ve served as a volunteer firefighter, currently a Trustee to Buck Road Cemetery Assn., member of the Friends of the Maryville Library, and Heritage Museum Committee. In the past, I’ve had the great honor to be elected to a variety of local positions. Currently, I’ve spent the last three years renovating the Maryville Centennial Memorial located at Hwy 159 at East Division Street. I’ve taken great pride in helping restore our community’s history that honors our military, firefighters, coal miners, and professional baseball players. This project is very special to me because it represents respecting our past while beautifying the grounds for all residents to enjoy. If elected, I will be accountable and accessible to all taxpayers to contact me with any questions regarding County Board issues.

How will you keep property taxes low? I consider myself a fiscal conservative and understand that County residents are concerned about keeping their property taxes low while maintaining services necessary for a vibrant, growing area. There are a few specific ways that the County Board can address this issue. First, it is necessary for our local area to keep growing. Attracting more business will increase assessed property value and generate more tax revenue. Second, the development of new home construction also increases the assessed valuation thus lowering residents tax bills. Third, Control pay raises at all levels and positions within Madison County Government. I plan to donate 25% of my county monthly net pay to local community charities. I will maintain transparency by providing access to which charities receive donations. I would like all Madison County residents to understand that their tax dollars go to making our local area a great place to live. Examples of a few of these include: Child Advocacy Center, Health Department, County Zoning, Emergency Management, Animal Care & Control, and the County relationship with the Humane Society. I would encourage all taxpayers to go the Madison County Website to see all the departments that are available to serve them.

What is something the board should be doing, but isn’t doing right now? The County Board needs to work across party lines and get the input from the members of the Board as well as county department heads when appropriate. It doesn’t appear that this is currently happening. Based on information contained in the minutes from past Board meetings, it appears that the Reorganizational County Board meeting held on Dec. 5, 2016 was done in error and a redo of that meeting was recommended by States Attorney Tom Gibbons during the December 21, 2016 meeting.. You can go to the Madison County web site, www.co.madison.il.us and make your own judgment. To my knowledge, this redo meeting has never taken place, placing a legal cloud over all County Board meetings since then.

Since December 2016, Madison County Board meetings have jumped from lasting an average of 36 minutes to an average of one hour and 11 minutes. Is this an efficient use of time? Why or why not? Board members need to be prepared and have a working knowledge of what is going on in the county prior to the meetings. The only way for this to happen is that Board members need to spend more time in committee meetings, even if they do not sit on that particular committee. Example, when I was on the Board, I was not a member of the Finance Committee, but I tried to attend those committee meetings so I could better understand what was being brought to the full Board at the monthly meeting. The monthly meeting agenda is sent out in advance of the meetings. If a board member requires more information or understanding of a subject, there is time to contact the proper committee prior to the board meetings. Well prepared board members lead to more efficient and shorter meetings.