Vandalia council, school board candidates profiled

CITY COUNCIL
WARD I

KENNETH HUBLER

NEIL F. CLARK
Age: 76
Occupation: Retired business owner.
Education: Pittsfield School System, grades 1-12
Family: Adult son, Jud; brother, B. John Clark and his wife Brenda; and nieces, nephews, great- and great-great-nieces and nephews throughout Illinois.
Church, club memberships: Attend Christian Church; member of Lions Club while a business owner; and served on various ad hoc committees while in business.
Offices held in the past, elected and otherwise: President of the Vandalia Chamber of Commerce in 1974, chairman of the Fayette County Chapter of the American Red Cross for 1967-68, member of the Fayette County Hospital board for several terms, member of the Fayette County Fair Board in 2005 and its vice president in 2006, Vandalia Township auditor/trustee for multiple terms, precinct committeeman (first appointed then later elected while living in Bluff City), and volunteer member of the Fayette Mosquito Abatement District and recently appointed secretary/treasurer.
Why are you running for a seat on the city council?
The same reason I ran four years ago – the opportunity to give back to this city for the support given my family and me in the past 40-plus years.
One of the main issues for the city continues to be preparing and sticking with a tight budget – How can you contribute to that effort?
I’ll use the experience I’ve gained as an alderman for the past four years. I’ll continue to work with the mayor and council to make the hard decisions needed for a balanced city budget without a tax increase.
In general, what types of experience and/or qualities can you bring to the city council?
My experience as a council member and as the past owner of several successful businesses in Vandalia and other Illinois cities.

WARD II
RUSS STUNKEL
Age: 58
Occupation: Retired
Education: Criminal justice degree and labor relations.
Family: Married for 35 years to wife Nancy; and children, Michael, Andrea and Kristina.
Church, club memberships: Union, American Legion, Eagles Club and Eden Evangelical.
Offices held in the past, elected and otherwise: Ward II alderman, 2011-present; and president of Local 993, 2004-10.
Why running are you running for a seat on the city council?
In my first term, we have accomplished goals, but I feel there is more to do.
We chose Vandalia for our retirement and home of record because of its many positive attributes. I would like to see that they are here for my kids and for others.
One of the main issues for the city continues to be preparing and sticking with a tight budget – How can you contribute to that effort?
I want to make sure not to be a “yes man,” question everything, including the purpose, return on investment, the effect on all citizens.
In general, what types of experience and/or qualities can you bring to the city council?
As a veteran, I have attended various leadership schools – primary leadership, basic non-commissioned officer academy and advanced non-commissioned officer academy.
I can tell you that, working the last four years as an alderman, we have good people working for the city. Past leadership positions have taught me that if you take care of your people, they will take care of you.

WARD III
No candidate.

WARD IV
B. JOHN CLARK
Age: 73
Occupation: Semi-retired.
Education: Pittsfield High School.
Family: Wife, Brenda; and daughters, Barri Forehand and Bobbie Holman.
Church, club memberships: Deacon, Four Mile Christian Church; National Street Rod Association; and Adventure Cruisers Vehicle Group.
Offices held in the past, elected and otherwise: Ward IV alderman, 2011-present.
Why running are you running for a seat on the city council?
To continue serving our city to the best interests of our citizens.
One of the main issues for the city continues to be preparing and sticking with a tight budget – How can you contribute to that effort?
We are consistently seeking new industry and jobs, we’ve made cuts in all departments and have dedicated our efforts on maintaining a balanced budget. As I’ve stated before many times, I will not support any tax increase.
In general, what types of experience and/or qualities can you bring to the city council?
Being a former part-owner of WPMB and WKRV, two successful doughnut shops and operating the original Subway in Vandalia.

SCHOOL BOARD
JUDY WASMUTH
Occupation: Retired teacher.
Education: Bachelor’s and master’s in education, certified to teach elementary education, gifted education, etc.
Family: Husband, Charles: daughters, Jami Berry and Mandi Austin; and grandchildren, Brenden Wasmuth, Quenten Austin, Sydney Austin, Garrett Austin and Bella Austin.
Church, club memberships: Immanuel Lutheran Church at Augsburg, Soroptimists of Vandalia, Augsburg Ladies Aid, Wednesday Morning Bowling League, Illinois Education Association and National Education Association.
Offices held in the past, elected and otherwise: President of Soroptimists, 2015; president of Wednesday Morning Bowling League, 2015; president of Augsburg Ladies Aid, 2015; secretary/treasurer, LWML-Altamont Zone, 2015; Vandalia Unit Teachers Association, secretary, treasurer and building representative, 1980s-90s; VUTA negotiations representative; Family YMCA of Fayette County Board; Vandalia Youth Organization secretary; and Fayette County Hospital Auxiliary secretary.
Why do you wish to continue serving on the school board?
The challenges of tomorrow must be met by giving our children the best educational opportunities available today. By continuing to serve on the board, I feel that I can help to see that this is possible for all students in all phases of education: academics, vocational and extracurricular activities.
What do you see as the key issues facing the school district in the coming years, and how do you feel that you can contribute to efforts to address those issues?
The first key issue is money – the state has not come forward to help provide and education for all these students that is giving them the best opportunities to lead the country. By keeping on top of what is happening in both the federal and state levels, I feel I can help make the best decisions for our students locally to prepare them to succeed and have a great future.
What types of experience and/or qualities can you bring to the school board?
I have been on the board for eight years, so I have an inside view of how finances work and can make good and wise decisions about how best to use the monies made available to our district.
I am a team player and with other members of the board can help find ways to resolve problems and conflicts that arise through a team effort.
I am committed to serving the students, teachers and all employees of the district to the best of my ability.

JAY SMITH
Age: 63
Occupation: Insurance sales.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in education from Bethany College in Kansas.
Family: Sons, Andrew of Vandalia, Arik of Sarasota, Fla., and Adam (deceased); and parents, the late J. Carl and Trudy Smith.
Church, club memberships: St. James Lutheran Church, Sons of the American Legion, Vandalia Moose Lodge, Eagles Club and Illinois High School Officials Association.
Offices held in the past, elected and otherwise: District manager for Insurance Partners Inc. of Springfield.
Why do you wish to continue serving on the school board?
It has been my contention and goal that my duties should be to focus on our students and maintain local control of our school board.
What do you see as the key issues facing the school district in the coming years, and how do you feel that you can contribute to efforts to address those issues?
Key issues facing our district are funding and restructuring our current facilities to fit the needs of our students now and in the future.
What types of experience and/or qualities can you bring to the school board?
My past experience and voting record has always been to prioritize our students while being prudent to the taxpayers in District 203.

MATT HALL
Age: 40
Occupation:  Correctional Sergeant.
Education:  Vandalia High School; associate’s degree, Kaskaskia College; and bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership, Greenville College.
Family: Wife, Tara; son, Brody (12); and daughter, Kelsey (11).
Church, club memberships: Bethel Baptist Church, AFSCME Local 993, VYO football coach, Fayette County YMCA and Fayette County Republican Central Committee.
Offices held in the past, elected and otherwise: AFSCME Trustee (2012-present); AFSCME treasurer (2004-08); AFSCME Executive Board member (1998-2004); Vandalia School Board (2007-present); vice president, Vandalia School Board (2013-present); Vandalia Correctional Center Hostage Negotiation Team; and Fayette County Republican Central Committee secretary/treasurer.
Why do you wish to continue serving on the school board?
I wish to balance the best education for all students, while being financially responsible.
What do you see as the key issues facing the school district in the coming years, and how do you feel that you can contribute to efforts to address those issues?
The biggest issue facing the school district is finances. The state has not delivered on its financial obligations. As a member of the school board’s finance committee, I have been forced to tackle this issue. I have developed relationships with our local legislators that enable me to communication our districts needs.
What types of experience and/or qualities can you bring to the school board?
I bring an inquisitive nature. I am not afraid to have an educated discussion and often ask if there is a better way. I try to look at things from the taxpayers’ point of view and whether my vote would reflect their general consensus. I am honest and will always be willing to explain my vote, if asked. I care greatly for this community. I attended Vandalia Schools, I work in Vandalia and I’m raising my family in Vandalia. I want to see Vandalia Community School District students succeed. As a member of the board, I strive to make sure we have a successful school system.

Neil Clark

Russ Stunkel

Jay Smith

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