AMBOY – Mayor Frank Mekeel says he’s “pretty happy” with the city government, so he’s asking voters to grant him another term.
He will face two challengers, aldermen Deanne Hoy and Tom Nauman, in the April 9 election.
Mekeel, 59, who co-owns Dixon Builders Supply, said Amboy has seen progress in recent years.
“Casey’s [convenience store] recently bought three houses that they will tear down for a new service station. We have a few more things happening,” he said. “I’d like to stay and see them done.”
Tom Nauman, an alderman for three decades, said many people have asked him to run.
“It was time for me to take the next step,” said Nauman, 58. “Everything starts and stops with the mayor.”
Hoy, 43, who owns Amboy Pharmacy, said the city sometimes loses focus on the goal of building and promoting business in Amboy. The city should run more like a business, she said.
Fiscally, Mekeel said, the city is in good shape.
“We don’t have a lot of money,” said Mekeel, who was an alderman for 6 years before becoming mayor in 2007. “But we don’t have to borrow money to operate. I’m really happy about that. I’m pretty happy with the city’s status right now.”
Nauman said he was upset a couple of years ago when the city rejected a $140,000 grant from the state Department of Natural Resources, which would have helped pay for a sports park on the north side of town. The city’s share would have been $70,000.
“We had a check on the mayor’s desk,” said Nauman, a retired state worker. “There were a lot of disappointed people in Springfield when we turned the grant back in. A lot of work was done in Springfield. It was unheard of to reject a grant. That has lingered among the people of Amboy.”
Nauman said the city also must work harder to get grants and more aggressively enforce regulations for cleanup of properties. Several houses, he said, are eyesores to neighbors.
In 2011, Hoy pushed to fill a fourth police officer position that had been vacant for more than a year. When the city created a utility tax in 2005, she noted, it promised the money would go toward the fourth position. Mekeel, however, argued the money was needed for other things.
The council voted 4-2 to use the tax for the officer’s position.
“My goal as mayor would be to focus on what is best for Amboy,” Hoy said recently. “My vote has always been on what is in the best interests of Amboy.”
As for the $140,000 grant, Hoy voted to reject it, saying the city didn’t have the $70,000 to pay its part of the project.
“We didn’t have the money to bring it to fruition.”
In 2009, Mekeel beat two opponents, Ed Blake and Daryl Stuckemeyer, with about 40 percent of the vote.
The candidates running in the April 9 Amboy city election:
Mayor: Frank Mekeel (i), Deanne Hoy, Tom Nauman
Ward 1: Brett Dewey (i)
Ward 2: John Schamberger, Doug McCoy
Ward 3: David Shaw (i), Nancy Kelly, Daryl Stuckemeyer
Village clerk: Melissa Eisenberg (i)
i – incumbent