By CARL GREEN
The April 6 municipal elections had their ups and downs for union-supported candidates in the Metro-East.
In Alton, David Goins, a challenger who won strong Labor support, defeated incumbent Mayor Brant Walker, winning 55 percent of the vote. Goins is the city’s first African American mayor.
A pastor and retired police sergeant, Goins included Organized Labor in the list of supporters that he thanked after the vote.
“When I set out on this journey, we had a clear vision to run a positive campaign and build a broad coalition of supporters,” he said. “Thank you to Republicans, Democrats, independents, Organized Labor, job creators and citizens of all backgrounds for your support, hard work and believing in me.”
Goins was endorsed and supported by Teamsters Local 525 and Laborers Local 218.
A father of three with 11 grandchildren, Goins said he will be working to recruit new businesses and jobs to Alton, and will seek to make the city cleaner and safer for families.
ECKERT DEFEATED IN BELLEVILLE
Belleville Mayor Mark Eckert, a longtime friend of Organized Labor, was defeated in his bid for re-election last week by retired teacher and founder of Belleville’s Art on the Square Patty Gregory, the first woman to be elected mayor in Belleville’s 207-year history.
A former Teamster, Eckert, now 65, will be missed. He served as mayor since 2004 and won four elections. The Southwestern Illinois Central Labor Council noted his support of the Belleville Labor & Industry Museum and the Council’s annual Labor Day parade, considered the largest parade in southern Illinois.
Eckert said he knew some residents were ready for a change, but he was happy with his tenure as mayor.
“Together, we turned Belleville in the right direction,” he said “Downtown is a totally different place today.
“You never make everybody happy,” he added. “I learned that a long time ago.”
In Edwardsville, Art Risavi, a business owner and City Council member, was elected mayor, replacing Hal Patton who didn’t run.
And Kevin Hall, an IT professional in the Madison County Circuit Clerk’s office, pulled off a surprise win defeating incumbent Edwardsville Township Supervisor Fred Schulte, in a vote of 1,809 to 1,484.
Hall made a well-received appearance before the Greater Madison County Federation of Labor before the election, asking for members’ support and saying he believed the township could do more to help people struggling to pay rent, buy food and pay for utilities.
OTHER MAYORAL RACES
- In Granite City, Michael Charles Parkinson easily defeated two other candidates to replace longtime mayor Ed Hagnauer, who did not run for re-election.
- City of Madison Mayor John Hamm was easily re-elected over two other candidates, receiving 57 percent of the vote.
- East Alton Police Chief Darren Carlton ran unopposed to replace Mayor Joe Silkwood, who did not seek re-election.
- In Bethalto, Gary Bost, a retired Madison County Jail superintendent now working as a data analyst, was elected to succeed Alan Winslow.
Outsourcing in Moline, IL leads to Labor sweep
In northwestern Illinois, Labor had a major victory in Moline, where union-supporting Sangeetha Rayapati easily defeated incumbent Mayor Stephanie Acri.
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) supported a slate of candidates including Rayapati and four successful candidates to replace incumbent alderman.
City budget cuts and high staff turnover were noted along with the outsourcing as turning voters against the incumbents. At least 15 high-level city employees have resigned, been terminated or taken early retirement in the past two years.
STEADY STREAM OF JOB LOSSES
AFSCME regional chair Tracy Jones said city employees had faced a steady stream of job losses under the old council and mayor.
“Moline city employees were watching their services be outsourced,” Jones said. “So there was a calculated campaign to recruit a full slate of candidates, and the entire ticket won! That’s what can happen when people come together and work hard toward a common goal.”
Rayapati, a music professor at Augustana College and a school board member, said: “Now the work of putting people, possibilities and progress at the center of our vision for this city begins.
“I will use the teamwork I’m known for to tackle the challenges and opportunities we have in front of us in terms of economic development, growth and making Moline a place where more people choose to live, play and stay.”
IMPACT OF LABOR
Newly elected Alderman Pat O’Brien noted the impact of Labor on the election.
“Once again we can thankfully say, ‘The people have spoken,’” O’Brien said. “When Labor engages the voters on issues for the well-being of the community, we all win.”