Like voters across the nation who broke new ground by electing the first Afro-American president, Fayette County voters departed from two earlier negative votes to approve funding for an Enhanced 911 emergency telephone system.
That system, which will be funded by a $2.75 monthly surcharge on county residents’ phone bills, will allow law enforcement and emergency services personnel to respond quickly and accurately to calls for help.
It’s a victory for backers of the system who have worked consistently for years to get the measure passed. But it’s also a very positive addition to the emergency services available to all county citizens.
By rejecting E911 in two previous elections, county voters had placed Fayette County among an ever-shrinking minority of Illinois counties that did not have the time-saving system. In fact, only 14 of Illinois’ 102 counties are without E911.
Because information is pre-programmed into the system, E911 provides emergency personnel with directions to the caller’s home and other vital information, even if the caller can’t speak or is too flustered to give accurate directions. Time after time, it’s a system that has saved lives by getting emergency personnel on the scene faster. And in those situations, speed is the name of the game.
Ask any fireman, ambulance medic or law enforcement officer, and they will give you horror stories about trying to follow directions given by frantic or seriously ill callers. It doesn’t take long to see that E911 is necessary.
The $33 per year that each household will pay will be well worth it.
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We applaud other county candidates who participated in Tuesday’s election. Whether they emerged the winner or not, their candidacy played a vital role in our democratic process.
Congratulations to the winners: Circuit Clerk Mary Sue Ruot, State’s Attorney Stephen Friedel, Coroner Bruce Bowen, and county board representatives Jean Finley, John Daniels Jr., Stephen Knebel, Brian Kinney, Keith Cole, Joe Kelly and Troy Pattillo. The election preserves a 9-5 Republican majority on the county board.
Now that the campaign is over, it’s time for a couple of things to happen.
First, candidates need to make sure all of their campaign signs are collected and properly disposed of. We don’t need to see them rotting away in lawns and ditches for the next several months.
And second, we need to move beyond the partisan divisions that elections create. Once elected, the representatives' focus must shift to serving the needs of county residents in new, creative and cost-effective ways. Let’s use this new beginning to move beyond the business-as-usual approach to county government.
Many significant issues face our county, and our elected officials must be ready and willing to tackle them.