EAST ALTON — East Alton Village Hall was at standing-room capacity Tuesday as trustees officially hired a police chief and swore in a new mayor to replace Fred Bright and Dwynn Isringhausen.
The East Alton Police Department rolled out the welcome mat to return Chief Darren Carlton, who resigned from the chief’s post in 2008. Carlton was appointed to the position of assistant chief with a rank of major in 1997 and accepted the position of chief in 2006. After serving two years in the top seat, Carlton took his expertise to Lewis and Clark Community College to serve as the director of the criminal justice department.
“My family is all pretty excited about me returning to the police department,” Carlton said. “Of course I got the ‘Whoa, are you sure that’s what you want to do, dad?’ questions, but they’re happy about it. I want the people of East Alton to know that I’m available to them. If they have a problem, questions or complaints I want the people to know they can call me, come see me and I’ll listen to them. I may not be able to give people the answers they want to hear, but I will address whatever the problem or situation is and hopefully we can come to a conclusion.”
Carlton’s experience in law enforcement put him in the position to prepare future officers coming out of LCCC with new ideas. Finding areas that needed to be improved, Carlton had the opportunity to dig deeper and address critical criminal justice issues. Now that expertise can be brought back to East Alton and put to work on the streets.
“I think that coming back to East Alton is a challenge,” Carlton said. “This is a challenge I’m up for. There are some ideas that I had when I left that I’ve changed now and some new philosophies and things that I want to incorporate. Many of my thoughts and philosophies haven’t changed, but there are a few things I’ve thought about and I want to change. I want to make the department even better than it is now. We have a lot of good officers and I’m excited to work with them.”
Carlton is not wasting any time and will take to the streets immediately for the citizens of East Alton. Resigning from his post of director of the criminal justice department at LCCC, Carlton hopes to continue an instruction position or mentor as he did prior to taking the director position.
With a familiar face returning to the police chief position, another familiar face will follow the footsteps of Mayor Fred Bright. East Alton Treasurer Joe Silkwood ran for village trustee and was elected April 7. Moments after taking his oath as a village trustee on Tuesday, Silkwood was nominated for the position of mayor by Trustee Dave Kuehnel and seconded by Allen Hale. The trustees voted unanimously to name Silkwood as mayor to fulfill Bright’s term until April 2017.
“I think naming Joe as mayor was a very good choice,” Bright said. “I was completely in favor of it. Joe has been a resident of East Alton since he was a baby. He grew up in this town and has done some good things and I believe he will do a lot more good things in the future. In many areas we both felt the same way on things; I think he will do a good job.”
Bright held the position of mayor for 18 years before announcing his resignation last month due to health reasons and to spend time with his family.
“The village of East Alton has had great leadership for the last couple of decades,” Silkwood said. “Mayor Bright has been an exceptional mayor and I’m not going to come in and try to change directions. It’s important to me to provide the services that will help make East Alton a better place to live.”
Mayor Silkwood plans for the first several days in office is to meet with staff and touch base on the current status and decide directions. Vacant committee appointments are on the agenda in the coming days.
“I like Joe Silkwood,” Carlton said. “I believe he will be a good mayor for the village of East Alton. I think he will be good to work with. We both have a common goal to better our community. I think he will try to continue on with the things that Fred Bright did and perhaps wanted to do.”
As Bright stepped down, he presented Silkwood with a wooden gavel to commemorate the moment and to welcome him into the position of mayor.
Along with the police chief and mayor positions filled, the EAPD swore in probationary police officer Adam LeGette.