By TESA GLASS
MT. VERNON —
Editor’s Note: This is the first of two stories profiling the candidates for Jefferson County Board.
Six county board districts have contested races during the Nov. 6 election with competition in District 2, District 4, District 5, District 6, District 11 and District 12.
Those running unopposed are Republican Steve Draege in District 1 for a two-year term; Republican Tommy Hayes in District 3 for a four-year term; Democrat Jim Laird in District 7 for a two-year term; Democrat Don Rector in District 8 for a two-year term; Republican Robert J. “Bob” White in District 9 for a four-year term; Republican Robert “Bob” Watt in District 10 for a two-year term; and Democrat James H. Malone in District 13 for a four-year term.
In County Board District 2, Democrat Calvin McClintock will take on incumbent Republican Joey McDermott.
McDermott is a lifelong resident of Jefferson County, as were both his parents and grandparents. He attended grade school in Mt. Vernon and graduated from Mt. Vernon Township High School before attending Rend Lake College. At 19 years of age, he assumed the responsibility of running his father’s business when his father suffered a stroke. Five years ago, he purchased his own equipment and now successfully operates his own small business while continuing to operate the family business.
McDermott said he knows the meaning of hard work and believes that as a public servant he should be honest and stand on principles that will mean the citizens are represented fairly and that the board makes fiscally responsible decisions.
As an incumbent, McDermott has served on the County Board for two years as a member of the fiscal committee, the services committee and the public safety committee.
In District 4, two men who are no newcomers to the county board will be vying for the seat. Democrat Pat Garrett, a former county board member, and incumbent Republican John Keele are running against each other.
“I am running because I am deeply concerned about the financial burden that recent increases in property and sales taxes have placed on the citizens of Jefferson County,” Garrett said. “Even now, when Jefferson County families struggle under record high property and sales taxes, the County Board Chair and his supporters are considering tax increases to pay for new employees, increased employee benefits and a $7 million renovation of the courthouse.”
Garrett is a retired Mt. Vernon Township High School superintendent. He served eight years of the MVTHS board of education and four years on the Jefferson County Board.
“I successfully managed a $12 million annual budget, supervised 160 teachers and staff and was responsible for the education of 1,500 students,” Garrett said of his work as an educator and administrator. He is a combat veteran of the Vietnam War, where he served two deployments to the combat zone. He has chaired the United Way campaign, served on the public library board and been a member of the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce and Rotary.
“I will oppose new taxes and work to reduce existing ones,” Garrett said. “I will work to provide the most cost effective, efficient, high quality public services to the citizens of Jefferson County.”
Keele has served one term on the County Board. He said he is running again to continue to serve the community and protect taxpayers’ hard-earned money.
While managing a business for 30-plus years, Keele said he has learned the skills to help the county.
“I had to balance a budget and show a profit,” Keele said. “I am a director at Texico State Bank and have served on several boards and committees. I am conservative and progressive. Before voting, I want to be sure we can afford it today and into the future. I try to promote cooperation between the county and employees and citizens of Jefferson County. Cooperation equals progress.”
Keele has served several terms on the U of I Extension Board, has been the treasurer and trustee of McConnaughhay Cemetery for more than 25 years, served on the church financial committee and been an FFA Advisory Board member at two high schools.
Keele said important issues facing the county are increasing costs due to inflation, accumulating delayed repairs and prioritizing the needs of the county.