Photo by Fred Pollard
Village trustee Mike Stumpf stands and addresses the crowd during a Godfrey election forum March 9 at Lewis and Clark Community College’s Trimpe Building. The forum was an opportunity for the two trustees up for re-election and four new candidates to present their platforms and answer questions from the audience. Early voting can be done at Godfrey Village Hall through March 31; Election Day is April 4.
With the introduction of a new business district in the works and three village trustee seats up in the air for the April 4 election, growth and change in Godfrey has been bubbling just under the surface.
According to Mayor Mike McCormick, this is an exciting era for Godfrey and its residents.
“I have been very pleased with the steps forward we have taken the past year or two,” he said. “We are heading in the right direction. Through our Economic Development Department and committee, I expect to see new businesses coming to our town, and I am looking forward to seeing residential growth, as well.”
Six candidates are running for three open trustee positions in the upcoming election.
Sharon Campbell, 66, has lived in Godfrey for 27 years. She retired in 2015 from a 44-year career with the federal government, working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Department of Defense as an internal auditor. She has not previously served in public office.
She said she feels her experience working with the government will help her make sound and researched decisions as a village trustee.
“People really do care about the future of Godfrey,” she said. “My goal is to hear the issue at hand and make decisions that will benefit the village and the community.”
With a focus on the business districts, Campbell said she intends to be a team player and do her homework, working with fellow trustees to move the village forward.
Born and raised in Godfrey, Jerome Jacobs, 36, has spent 11 years working with the St. Louis Blues as a changeover coordinator and currently works at Phillips 66 Wood River Refinery.
“Civic involvement is an important responsibility, and that is why I am running for trustee,” he said. “I would love to see Godfrey Road flourish, and I would like to see us work toward a plan to increase our businesses.”
Jacobs says if elected, his focus would be on infrastructure and the undeveloped and unused areas of Godfrey. He is married with three children and has not previously served in public office.
Mark Stewart, 58, in addition to his career as a computer programmer, also owns My Antique Store in Godfrey along with his wife. A trustee for the past 18 years, he is running to keep his seat.
“I try to listen to people, even if they disagree with me sometimes, and learn from them and hope they learn from me,” he said. “I think you should set a goal, believe you can get it done and then go after it. If I have to go a foot at a time to get it done, we will do it.”
Stewart’s priorities include sewer issues, the development of the village’s second business district, and the extension of Lars Hoffman Expressway. He serves as chairman of the Finance Committee. He can often be found attending village meetings and on site, visiting with residents and listening to their concerns.
Mike Stumpf, a Godfrey resident for more than 25 years, is retired from Weber Construction and has served two terms as trustee.
He also serves as chairman of Capital Projects Committee and is a member of the Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee and Finance Committee.
“Godfrey has a park system that is second to none,” Stumpf said. “My job is to make sure that we have access and decent roads to those parks. Good roads … invite people to come to the village.”
He said taxpayer money is crucial to maintaining good infrastructure, and residents need to see the results of their investment.
A business owner by the age of 10, Nathan Schrumpf ran his landscaping business for 20 years before starting a career at Phillips 66 Wood River Refinery. He has not previously held public office.
He said his priority is to increase the village’s tax revenue.
“As a trustee, I want to ensure Godfrey remains a great place to live,” he said, also noting his years as a landscaper and familiarity with the park district will benefit his term as trustee.
“With four girls in the household, I am always outvoted, so I am thinking with this election, I will have a shot,” he jokes.
Jeff Weber, 75, has eight years under his belt as trustee, serving on the board until 2015. He said he has had extensive experience with the workings of the village and dealing with unions and government agencies.
“I have the skills and the abilities to make a good trustee,” he said.
Since stepping down, he has continued to serve as member of the Capital Projects Committee and Hoffman Gardens Committee and as chairman of the Special Projects Sewer Committee.
In what he calls his “third and final term,” Weber said he wants to focus on infrastructure. He is married with two children.
The Godfrey Women’s Club held a Godfrey election forum March 9 at Lewis and Clark Community College’s Trimpe Building, moderated by Mark Ellebracht of WBGZ. Approximately 75 people attended the event, and many submitted questions to the six candidates seeking trustee positions.
Following introductions, candidates were asked how they are currently involved with the village and if they attend meetings regularly.
Stewart, Weber and Stumpf all said they are heavily involved with the village through their various committees as well as service on the board.
“This is not a part-time job,” Stumpf said, referring to his work with the village’s infrastructure. “I am not the guy who will sit behind a desk and look out the window. I always go look, and I will ask the hard questions.”
Campbell, Jacobs and Schrumpf indicated they have not had extensive experience with meetings but all said they would look forward to increased involvement as trustees.
When asked about continued funding for the Godfrey Fire Protection District when the village’s development expands, Stewart said the TIF district has not grown enough to bring in significant revenue, but he expects that to change and would like to see funds distributed to the departments in need, including the fire district.
Stumpf agreed the growth is not yet there, and Campbell said she anticipates it taking some time to accomplish that growth. Jacobs said there should be a way the board can find to help fund the district.
“When I was on the board, we supported the fire department and found the extra money to hire additional firefighters, and I believe the same thing will happen in the future,” Weber said.
Stewart also said he has a long-term goal of wishing to see the construction of a new village hall and fire house along Lars Hoffman Expressway when that road is extended. Weber disagreed, saying he feels the current buildings are serving the village adequately.
Regarding whether to raise or lower the tax levy, Stumpf said the village has lowered it too much and has voted against lowering the rate in the past. Godfrey currently has what is among the lowest tax rates in Madison County.
“The reason we cannot do certain projects is due to the fact we have lowered the tax levy too much,” he said. “The levy will have to be increased over time in small increments.”
Weber said he has voted against lowering the levy in the past.
“I was in favor of staying where it was,” he said. “If it is lowered too much, you can get into a terrible bind.”
An issue garnering attention and discussion in the past is the yard waste burning restriction in the village.
Jacobs and Schrumpf both said they support tighter restrictions on burning, while Weber, Campbell and Stumpf said they feel the current schedule (9 a.m. until 3 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays in March, April, May, October, November and December) is working. Stewart said he is open to input from residents, but also noted the village is bound to federal restrictions on burning. He also said the purchase of a truck, which Jacobs and Schrumpf suggested, would not be fiscally responsible.
Absent from the forum was discussion regarding crime rates and safety in the village.
“Other communities have lots of problems; we do not have a lot of problems,” Stewart said. “I think if we all work together ... the future is bright. This is a great place to live.”
McCormick said he hopes to see a better turnout this Election Day than the last municipal election.
Trustees Eldon Williams, Karen McAtee and Joseph Springman are serving four-year terms. Trustee Sarah Johnes is not running for another term.
“I just feel like two terms is enough,” Johnes said. “There are a lot of great people in this community with a lot of great ideas, and it is someone else’s turn.
“I am very proud of the business district; it can only bring good things going forward, and it will inspire growth.
“(During my tenure), we were donating funds to the Alton fireworks, and I felt we should be putting that money toward Godfrey, and eventually we did. Now, I am so proud when I go to Glazebrook Park for Godfrey’s fireworks display and see the crowds of people.
“As a trustee, I am a steward of Godfrey’s money, and I take that seriously.”
The Mayor’s Office
Incumbent mayor McCormick is running unopposed for a third term.
“My original thought was to run for two terms and then stop, but people have approached me and say they feel we are moving in the right direction,” he said. “To be honest, I just really enjoy doing this. There are frustrations, of course, but I get up every morning and I never dread coming in to work. I made a decent living in this community when I had a business here, and this is my way to give back.”
During his tenure, McCormick said he is proud of the reduction of the sales tax for seven of the eight years he has been mayor, and says the village is in “good financial shape.”
“There are several sewer projects, totaling about $5 million, that we will be undertaking in the next four years or so, and federal money has helped us out with other projects such as (the ongoing) Stamper Lane and Clifton Terrace, which we hope to begin next year.”
Doug Mueller is not running for re-election for township supervisor, and Terry Seymour is running for that spot. Monica Star Jerrells is running for township assessor. The village is looking to abolish the township and absorb its services into the village. If that happens, the supervisor and assessor will serve out their terms.
Current clerk Pam Whisler also is running unopposed for another term. She has worked for Godfrey since 1980, began serving as clerk for the township in 1985 and has served as village clerk since Godfrey was incorporated in 1991.
“My work here is just not yet done,” she said. “I still feel I can provide services.”
Her duties include the attendance and record-keeping of board meetings, maintaining the village code, providing election information and assistance and more.
“Residents can contact us at any time for help; I am here to guide them in the right direction,” Whisler said. “I originally ran to make a difference and do my part to keep residents in Godfrey. Over the last 30-plus years, that is what I have been doing. I believe we will see growth, with new homes and businesses added as the local economy stabilizes.
“People feel safe here, and we are close to many activities. This is not just a community, this is a home.”
A second business district
During a Jan. 17 meeting, Economic Development Director William Catalano outlined a plan involving the implementation of a second business district for the village in the Lars Hoffman Crossing area, as well as the expansion of the current business district, much of which is located along Godfrey Road.
Business District 1 was formed in 2012, starting with 458 parcels, and generates $720,000 to $840,000 annually through a 1 percent sales tax. The village is looking to add 126 parcels (currently undeveloped land) to this district to increase the opportunity for new businesses to land in Godfrey.
A proposed Business District 2 would consist of 20 parcels (just under 900 acres total), with a proposed estimated budget of $6.1 million in revenue, with cost of installation, construction, roadwork and additional costs at about $4 million. This district will include the former site of Hoods Discount Center.
No changes are proposed for zoning in the area, according to Catalano.
Following a public hearing Feb. 7, the plan was adopted during the March 8 Village Board meeting and sent to the Illinois Department of Revenue on March 9.