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Photo by Frank Prager
Mayor Robert Jackstadt says communication and trust are key to successful government in the village of Glen Carbon.
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Photo by Frank Prager
Glen Carbon was incorporated in 1892 and was the site of many coal mines early in the 20th century. Jackstadt notes the community has a long history of hard-working citizens.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This article is part of the Making a Difference series focusing on the Edwardsville-Glen Carbon area.
GLEN CARBON — When talking about his governing strategy, Glen Carbon Mayor Robert Jackstadt is direct and to the point.
“We want to provide leadership people can trust,” he says. “Our overall attempt is to make government better for our residents.”
Jackstadt was raised in Collinsville, where his father was mayor. Familiar with the Glen Carbon area his entire life, he has seen its growth and development over the decades. A construction and education litigation lawyer by profession, he moved to Glen Carbon in 1991 and asked to be appointed to a village committee soon after.
“I saw the work my father did and had the principle of giving back to the community instilled in me from a young age,” he says. Jackstadt served on the city planning commission for two years and as a trustee for four years. He was elected mayor in 2005.
He explains Glen Carbon originally was established by one of Illinois’ first settlers, Col. Samuel Judy, who received a military grant for 100 acres in 1801. The settlement at the time was called the Goshen Settlement. The name eventually was changed to Glen Carbon to reflect coal-mining activity in the area. The village was formally incorporated in 1892.
The mayor notes that during its beginnings, the community integrated a broad cross-section of cultures that came to the area during the coal-mining era.
“Coal mining was one of the main industries in the area,” he says. He points out the area has a long history of hard-working citizens.
Jackstadt explains the current population of 14,000 residents has ready access to resources, conveniences and jobs. The community is composed of large residential tracts as well as significant commercial enterprises.
The mayor places a key emphasis on communication and believes open, honest government is critical to the town’s success. He explains a number of functions his administration has implemented to strengthen interaction between government and the public. He notes the city publishes a quarterly newspaper, The Communicator, distributed to 6,000 households. The newsletter provides information from government committees and the mayor.
A seven-member residents’ advisory board has been established to give the public a direct voice in government. An annual homeowners’ representation meeting allows presidents of local homeowners’ associations to get answers to questions and information on any issues with which they are involved.
In addition, his office administers a business advisory board. The board provides an avenue for candid input from businesses regarding their interests as well as giving those businesses direct feedback from the public and government. His administration has also established guidelines to ensure the public has access to speak directly to village board members at the board’s bimonthly meetings.
Two key projects are the focus of Jackstadt and the board.
“Old Troy Road is our highest-priority infrastructure issue,” he says.
He explains that as business in the area has increased, so has traffic on the road. He points out that with the budget impasse situation in state government, funds that normally would be used for improvements and repairs are unavailable.
He says the village is not content to simply wait.
“We are moving forward with the engineering and looking at alternatives for finding a way to get done what is needed,” he says.
The other key project is the Ray M. Schon Memorial Park, a recreational park and nature area being constructed in the community. The park has been established and phase one of the project, including parking and a lake, is completed. Phase two will add more parking, bathrooms and sports facilities. The administration is working toward obtaining funding for the second phase.
The mayor sees Glen Carbon as a great place to raise a family and one in which businesses can grow.
“We have very competitive municipal tax rates and outstanding services,” he says. “The police force is outstanding. It is one of the safest communities in the state of Illinois.”
The mayor says the village will continue to grow and that “smart growth” is key. He sums up future plans by saying, “We need to maintain the level of excellence we have as we continue to move forward.”