By CARL GREEN
East Alton, IL – Union leaders got an early look on July 25 at how their Democratic Party allies plan to take back the Madison County Board chairmanship and win other county offices in the 2020 election.
Former regional school superintendent Bob Daiber, who is running against Republican County Board Chairman Kurt Prenzler, told the Greater Madison County Federation of Labor he has found himself campaigning earlier than he had expected after announcing his candidacy in June.
“This is my third straight day of making appearances and speaking because I think it’s important,” Daiber said. “One message that is resonating is that Kurt Prenzler has conducted a bad administration.”
Federation members also heard from County Coroner Steve Nonn, who said he will run for re-election along with State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons, and from East Alton Mayor Joe Silkwood, who is running for county auditor to replace incumbent Rick Faccin, who is not seeking re-election.
A NEW TICKET
Daiber, Nonn, Gibbons and Silkwood could make up a slate of Democratic Labor supporters pushing back against the Republican gains of recent elections.
The slate could also include Amy Gabriel, a private attorney who has worked in the state’s attorney’s office and is running for circuit court clerk to replace incumbent Mark Vonnida.
Vonnida is not running so he can devote more time to his other job as Madison County Democratic Party chairman.
“Everyone needs to have a voice and be treated fairly and with respect,” Gabriel told the Federation when she announced her bid in April. “The courthouse is really the fabric and foundation of our community.”
A GREAT TICKET, WITH LABOR’S HELP
“I think we’re going to have a great ticket,” Nonn, the Madison County coroner, told Federation delegates. “I think we’re going to do well, and I think we’re going to take back the county board chairman’s seat. But we’ll only do it with your help.”
Nonn was elected coroner in 2000 and has been re-elected every four years since. He previously was a detective for the sheriff’s department.
Silkwood, Alton’s mayor who is running for county auditor, served as East Alton’s treasurer from 1999 to 2015 before becoming mayor. He also served as chairman and treasurer for Wood River Township, and holds a master’s degree in public administration.
“I’ve been a Democrat my whole life,” Silkwood told the Federation. “Like many of you, I was a Democrat before I knew what a Democrat was. My mom and dad raised me right. My dad was a Steelworker and my mom was a stay-at-home mom who loved working people.”
UNIONS ARE THE ANSWER
Daiber, a former teacher who was active with the Illinois Education Association, recounted how as regional superintendent, he was able to ensure that millions of dollars worth of projects went to union contractors.
“Some people call me a unionist, because I’m very pro-union,” he said. “I think unionization is an answer to workers’ benefits, and I think it’s the answer to good wages. And it’s the reason Madison County has been a good place to work and raise a family, because people here make good wages, unlike in many other counties and counties that border us.”
WORKERS HARASSED UNDER PRENZLER
Under Prenzler’s leadership, Daiber and Silkwood said, Madison County government has turned against working people.
“Workers feel intimidated by this guy,” Daiber said. “People are being treated unfairly. The county is in a state of controversy on a daily basis, and that needs to change in order for Madison County to prosper.”
“The auditor has to be a watchdog,” Silkwood said. “Kurt Prenzler has proved why we need a watchdog. This guy believes that the right thing to do is to tear apart the working people. He has harassed these people in the county. He is not governing.”
The Madison County Democratic Party can be contacted online at madcodems.com.