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Photo by Jason White
Madison County Clerk Debbie Ming-Mendoza administers the oath of office to Treasurer Chris Slusser, accompanied by his wife, Megan, and their two daughters, Annabelle, 21 months, and Zoë, 8 months.
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Photo by Jason White
Ming-Mendoza swears in Chrissy Dutton as the District 15 County Board representative.
EDWARDSVILLE — The Madison County Board appointed a new treasurer and County Board member Dec. 21 amid continuing questions over the legality of a special meeting.
Former GOP chairman appointed treasurer
The board appointed Chris Slusser of Wood River as treasurer to fill the vacancy left after former treasurer Kurt Prenzler was elected County Board chairman in November. Slusser will serve until the Nov. 6, 2018, general election.
In a press release, Prenzler said he picked Slusser because of his financial and real estate background.
“I believe Chris has the integrity and background necessary to safeguard the taxpayers’ money,” Prenzler said. “I’ve known Chris the past 10 years; plus he has experience in county government.”
Slusser was elected Nov. 8 as a County Board member from District 15, which includes parts of Wood River, Bethalto, Roxana, Hartford and Kendall Hill. He served on the County Board from 2008 to 2012.
For the past four years, Slusser has worked as commercial real estate asset manager with RLP Development. He previously worked as the chief financial officer for ROI Realty Partners, a commercial real estate firm, as well as an investment adviser for nine years.
“It’s a good combination for the Treasurer’s Office, because we’re dealing with real estate taxes and investing money, and that’s what my background is,” he said.
Slusser said he plans a full portfolio review within the next few weeks with the treasurer’s staff. He’ll also seek outside investment advice to guide his policies.
“We’ve been in an unprecedented era here for the last eight or nine years where interest rates have been near zero,” he said. “There’s a lot of talk that it will change and interest rates will tick up a little bit, so that will affect our strategy.
“I’m a pretty conservative investor and probably won’t stray a lot from where we’re at, but I’ll evaluate it and I’ll make the decisions,” he said. “The county’s money needs to be invested safely, and there needs to be liquidity, with minimal risk, because it’s public money.
“I’m confident with the staff we have in place that we’ll do a good job with the portfolio,” he said.
Slusser, the father of two girls, ages 8 months and 21 months, said he resigned as chairman of the Madison County Republican Party to spend more time with his family and to avoid political entanglements in his new job.
“I figured it was probably best if I shrink my schedule a little bit and focus on being treasurer,” he said.
“We achieved every goal I had set out as party chairman,” he said.
Precinct committeemen will select a new chair at the Jan. 23 Madison County Republican Party meeting. Slusser said he’s confident in whoever is selected.
“We’re still going to be in great hands and we won’t miss a beat,” he said.
He said he thinks people who voted for him to be their County Board representative are glad he’ll be serving in an elected office at a countywide level, and said he will run for treasurer in the next election.
“I’ve had a lot of people in my district reach out to me — Facebook, text messages, stopping by my house … and everybody’s really thrilled and excited,” he said. “They view this as a step up. I’m still serving in an elected position and now get to serve the whole county.”
He praised his replacement, Chrissy Dutton.
“I can easily say she’ll be an upgrade over me,” he said. “She’ll do a fine job.”
Slusser, a Roxana High School graduate, holds a bachelor of science in speech communication from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. He minored in business administration.
Slusser has served as president of the board of directors for Riverbend Family Ministries in Wood River and volunteers in organizations that serve youths. He is also past vice president of finance of the SIUE alumni association.
Bethalto Republican takes District 15 seat
Chrissy Dutton, a Bethalto Republican and precinct committeeman in Wood River Precinct No. 23, replaces Slusser on the District 15 seat. Dutton ran for County Board in 2012 and lost by 24 votes.
Dutton, 38, works as a registered dental hygienist. A 1996 Roxana High School graduate, she has an associate of applied science degree from Lewis and Clark Community College and a bachelor of arts in English from University of Missouri St. Louis.
“I’ve worked with the public for 16 years in the dental field and more recently as a dental hygiene instructor,” Dutton wrote in an email. “I have previously served on the PTO board in Bethalto schools. I’m passionate about what goes on in Madison County government and having lived most of my life in this district and raising a family, I want what’s best for our community. I knocked on hundreds of doors during my campaign in 2012 and listened to the concerns of the citizens. I’m grateful for the opportunity to represent them now to the best of my abilities.”
As a County Board member, Dutton stated she wants to decrease property taxes and curb wasteful spending.
“I hope to be a voice for the residents of District 15 and I’ll serve with honesty and integrity,” she wrote.
Dutton is single and has 2 sons, ages 7 and 10.
Special meeting and appointments controversy
Under the new business portion of Wednesday’s meeting, Granite City Democrat Arthur Asadorian made a motion to hold a special meeting Dec. 28 to replace actions the board took at a reorganizational meeting Dec. 5. At that meeting, Prenzler allowed former board member Stephen Adler to preside because of Adler’s familiarity with the board’s procedures. But Wednesday, State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons reaffirmed his legal opinion that Adler had no authority to chair the Dec. 5 meeting, at which new County Board members were sworn into office. Gibbons has recommended the board hold a meeting to replace its actions Dec. 5.
“We have always followed a certain protocol, and that protocol was not followed when we first started under your administration,” Asadorian told Prenzler.
“My sole purpose is to make sure we’re legitimate,” Asadorian said.
But Prenzler repeated his assertion that the Dec. 5 meeting was legal and gaveled down Asadorian’s motion for the special meeting, ruling him out of order. He told Asadorian to follow a procedure for calling a special meeting that involves acquiring board members’ signatures.
Democrats also questioned Prenzler about department head appointments lacking from the meeting’s agenda. The appointments were initially on the Dec. 5 agenda but were pushed back to Wednesday’s meeting after board members asked for more time to review the appointees’ qualifications.
Prenzler said he’s withdrawn the appointments for now. After Granite City Democrat Michael Charles Parkinson questioned him about two of the appointees, Prenzler responded that Adler, the proposed director of administration, and Kristen Poshard, the proposed community development director, have both been hired, although not under those job titles. Poshard is listed on the county’s website as chief deputy administrator; Adler is listed as deputy county administrator.
“They have not been appointed; they have been hired,” Prenzler said. “The county administrator has the power to hire.”