Candidate profile: Richie Meile

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: Richie Meile

Office seeking: St. Clair County Board District 23

Party: Democrat

Age: 70

City of residence: O’Fallon

Campaign website: N/A

Why are you running and why should people vote for you? I had decided after observing nothing significant taking place in District 23 that perhaps I had the background and knowledge to formulate some necessary changes. During my 7 1/2 years as an O’Fallon Alderman I was fortunate to have been a member of the City Council that rolled back property taxes to 2012 rates, froze water and sewer costs and blocked the sale of our water department. These were momentous accomplishments which illustrated the power of teamwork regardless of political beliefs. My experience as Superintendent of the St. Clair Highway Dept. will offer added understanding on a county level. There are some major growth prospects that will affect District 23 in a big way. The expansion of the Frank Scott Corridor is crucial to the accessibility of Scott Air Force Base, MidAmerica Airport and Reider Road. I feel I would be an asset to the board having worked closely with county officials in my former roll as an authoritative leader. I expect my opinion would be respected and carefully considered while working collectively for a progressive outcome.

St. Clair County’s health fund is $3.3 million in debt, according to its most recent audit. The debt has increased over the last two years. What measures would you support to reduce the debt? Having been a tenured county employee I found this deficit to be most disturbing. It brings the rising health care costs close to home. This is not only a St. Clair County problem but a national concern. An obvious consideration would be to increase medical insurance premiums as well as raising deductibles. More and more seniors are working past retirement age due to the need for medical coverage. We must be mindful of the burden we are putting on employees as well as taxpayers year after year by increasing out of pocket costs and offering a minimal if any increase in salary. Another option may be to introduce wellness programs which can educate the workforce as well as family members regarding better health. Some topics to consider may be nutritional counseling, smoking cessation and fitness activities. We need to promote preventative health screening to check for diseases and health conditions before there are symptoms. Screenings find problems early on, when they may be easier and less costly to treat.

What is your position on the oversight of MidAmerica Airport? Would you change anything? If so, what? I would like to see more positivity regarding MidAmerica Airport. It is a reality which needs to be embraced and accepted as a worthy investment for our surrounding communities.The expansion of Frank Scott Parkway will be a positive step regarding easier access to MidAmerica. The convenience of the airport location and parking availability has made travel easier for many that have taken advantage of this opportunity. I see nothing but additional growth in the very near future. The U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics indicate that passenger travel in 2018 from MidAmerica is on pace to be the highest since the airport opened, this is positive. MidAmerica Airport is currently managed by St. Clair County under the auspices of the St. Clair County Public Building Commission. I believe strongly in the current oversight structure and expect MidAmerica to be a source of income for St. Clair County. MidAmerica Airport was named “Airport of the Year” by The Illinois Department of Transportation’s Division of Aeronautics in the category for airports that see more than 10,000 passenger boardings annually, this is positive.

St. Clair County board meetings last an average of 30 minutes, according to a review of meeting minutes from the last two years. Some committee meetings for the most part last less than 15 minutes. Is this enough time for county board members to conduct county business and earn a $19,419 salary? Why or why not? As a member of O’Fallon City Council and Chairman of two committees I have witnessed meetings lasting from 20 minutes to 2 hours. It would be impossible to set a time limit as the agendas are inconsistent and each issue must be allotted the necessary time for ample discussion to reach a fair and just result. As a County Board member I feel it will be my responsibility to be well-versed on the issues facing the county prior to the meeting and be prepared to speak prior to voting. Upon receiving the information packet I will take the necessary time for preparation and to speak with all concerned parties preceding the actual meeting.

County revenue has been declining in recent years. How should revenues be increased or do services have to be cut? Why? I do not favor eliminating services in order to increase revenue, I do favor a complete and thorough audit of expenditures. If there are comparable options available to what is currently in place these options need to be explored and possibly implemented. We need to increase our population as a large portion of tax revenues come from property taxes, sales, and gross receipts taxes. Increasing the population growth and welcoming new businesses to the county should be a priority. Working alongside our reputable Economic Development Committee to determine how to entice new business ventures to our area would be a breakthrough to increasing revenue as well as jog opportunities.