EDWARDSVILLE — Madison County Board Chairman Alan Dunstan officially announced his candidacy for chairman of the Madison County Board on Thursday, citing the desire to continue effective, efficient management of the county and to continue leading on critical regional issues affecting residents.
“It has been a privilege to serve the people of Madison County, and every day I work to do what is right and what is best for them,” Dunstan said in a press release. “I continually work to earn the trust of the people by ensuring Madison County is the best, most efficiently managed county in the state of Illinois.”
Citing his past accomplishments and priorities for a next term, the chairman continues to be a driving force in the advancement of critical regional issues that protect the lives of county residents and businesses, including major investments in public safety programs, job creation and the quality of life offered in Madison County.
“I have worked to keep the county in sound financial condition, ensuring the county is debt-free and operates with a balanced budget,” he said.
Under Dunstan’s leadership, Madison County has streamlined county government, reducing the size of its workforce by more than 300 employees since he became chairman.
“Madison County is not immune to the same economic factors which impact our citizens,” he said. “And like our citizens, we have made tough financial decisions while still reducing the county’s reliance on property taxes. In 2016, Madison County government will levy less property tax than it did four years ago.”
The chairman said he is particularly proud of his working relationship with the Democrats and Republicans on the Madison County Board.
“As chairman, it is my responsibility to work in a bipartisan manner with every elected official, to find common ground,” he said. “The leaders of our state and federal governments could learn something from how Madison County works together.”
As chairman, Dunstan led the effort to rehabilitate the Metro East levee system which protects significant portions of the county from potentially catastrophic events. He also implemented many public safety improvements that enhance the capability of emergency responders, including the development of a state-of-the-art Emergency Response Center, upgrades to the 911 emergency telephone and regional radio communications systems, and the development of a computer-aided dispatch and records management system that enables police and fire departments to efficiently share information and respond more quickly to emergencies.
“There is no higher priority to me than the safety of the men, women and children of Madison County,” Dunstan said. “Under my leadership, the county has done everything possible to ensure the men and women who serve in our police and fire departments, as well as every other emergency responder, have the technology, equipment and support to do their jobs and protect our citizens.”
Promoting economic development and creating jobs for county residents has and continues to be a key priority for Dunstan. The chairman played a key role in Madison County’s becoming the Midwest’s premier, state-of-the-art intermodal transportation hub, creating more than 5,000 new jobs. He has also been a leading advocate of the new St. Louis Gateway Regional Freight District and was recognized by the Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois for his efforts in its creation.
“My record on fiscal management, enhancing public safety, economic development and job creation speaks for itself,” Dunstan said. “Madison County has firmly moved into the 21st century and our future is bright.”
In 2002, Alan J. Dunstan was elected chairman by the members of the Madison County Board, and it was during the first years of his administration that the Troy native initiated changes designed to make county government more responsive to the people of the county.
In one of his first actions, Dunstan changed the board’s meeting times to late afternoons, declaring “county government serves the people, so it only makes sense to have meetings when the majority of the people can attend and witness the functioning of their government.”
Soon after being named board chairman, and following his belief of a government that serves the people, Dunstan initiated and worked diligently toward a dramatic change in how the board chairman is selected. As a direct result of Dunstan’s efforts, the Madison County Board voted to make the position of county board chairman elected by the people of the county and, in 2004, Dunstan became the first chairman in the history of Madison County to be elected in a countywide race.
During his ongoing tenure as chairman, Dunstan has implemented strict fiscal policies and budgeting procedures, and has effectively reduced the size of county government through technological advancements that enable the county to operate with fewer employees. This was accomplished without laying off employees, but by not replacing employees who have retired or sought opportunities elsewhere.
In 1978, Dunstan became the youngest city official in Illinois when at age 21 he was elected alderman in the city of Troy, a position he held until 1980 when, at age 23, he was elected to the Madison County Board, where he was again the youngest ever elected. Dunstan served seven terms as a member of the board before becoming county board chairman in 2002. He was elected Jarvis Township supervisor in 1985 and has served eight consecutive terms in that position.
A lifelong resident of Troy, Dunstan attended public schools in Troy, graduating in 1975.
He graduated from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville in 1980 with a bachelor’s degree in government and a specialization in state and local government. In 1982, Dunstan earned a second bachelor’s degree in business administration with a specialization in economics.