LYNDON – Village Hall has seen its share of turbulence during Tim Crady's term as president.
In 2011, Crady fired the village's longtime clerk, Linda Pilgrim, after an audit showed financial irregularities that appeared to benefit her. And in early 2012, he terminated a maintenance employee – much to the chagrin of some people in the community.
On Tuesday's ballot, Crady is a candidate for re-election against Kathleen Stone, 67, one of his critics. Her husband, Francis, 66, is one of seven candidates for three positions on the village's board of trustees.
The others are incumbents Dwaine "D.J." Sikkema and Paul Engwall and challengers Doug Dunlap, Barbara Higgins, Edward Eide and Gordon Zschiesche.
Crady, who started in 2009, said he gained experience in his last 4 years.
"This job doesn't come with a manual," he said. "You learn from your mistakes."
In September 2011, trustees voted for Pilgrim to surrender her village computer passwords. After she refused, the board voted to fire her, then realized only the village president had that power.
The board went behind closed doors for 2 hours, after which Crady fired Pilgrim, who had handled village finances.
According to the audit, the financial problems involved inadequate withholding from Pilgrim's own paychecks for taxes and insurance as well as how she paid herself for unused vacation time and sick days.
"We have gone through a lot of change," Crady said. "We went through some growing pains. Some things we did a little wrong. We corrected them."
Crady's critics didn't think he handled the problems quickly enough. And they also pressured him to take the matter to the state police, which he ultimately did. But the police said they could find no crime.
'You need to stay positive'
Last year, three board members expressed opposition to the majority's decision to fire maintenance employee Will Shaffer, which came 3 days after Crady had placed him on unpaid suspension. The three members said they never received a list of allegations or other documentation against Shaffer. One of them suggested that Shaffer, who is black, was the victim of discrimination.
Kathleen and Francis Stone, who have been attending board meetings for 4 years, are sympathetic to the minority of trustees. Francis said he was kicked out during one meeting because Crady didn't like what he had to say. His wife said she takes notes at every meeting.
In their view, Shaffer's firing was unfair. And the couple said the village president keeps public information from residents – for instance, the facts surrounding the sale of a grader and safety bonuses given to employees.
"There's a lot of stuff they do down there that's not in the meeting minutes," Francis said.
Crady, 49, said he's not hiding anything. In fact, he said, during his term, the village started sending meeting minutes along with water bills to any residents who request them.
He said he considers himself a positive person.
"You need to stay positive in this position. You're going to have some negative no matter what you do," he said.
He pointed to the veterans memorial that was completed during his term.
"We had a lot of opposition to that. People didn't want to spend the money. It was an investment in Lyndon," Crady said. "We need to make the town presentable, where people can come and live."
'There is too much infighting'
Sikkema, 32, who voted against Pilgrim's ouster but later came over to Crady's way of thinking, said the village was headed in the right direction.
"Some of the people who are running aren't looking at it for the betterment of the town," said Sikkema, who didn't name names.
Zschiesche, 75, who has been the Lyndon Township clerk for the last 15 years, said he wanted to give village government a try.
"I don't have any agenda at all," he said.
He said Trustee Engwall, who was appointed last year after Lyle Armstrong resigned, encouraged him to run.
Edward Eide, 68, who moved to Lyndon 5 years ago, said he preferred Crady over his rival.
"There is too much infighting in town. We need stability," Eide said. "The city employees deserve a little bit of respect. They're doing a good job, and no one recognizes it. I'd like to help them out."
Engwall, 67, a retired school administrator, said he wants village employees to be able to do their jobs without micromanagement. And the board, he said, should handle personnel issues behind closed doors.
"Beyond the 6-month [cash] reserve, the village should be investing in vehicles, facilities and a pavement program to put asphalt on the streets. We've been doing this tar and chip stuff. The village should start improving streets, going with a different method," he said.
Engwall also said the village needs to celebrate its uniqueness – the bridge, the new veterans memorial, the historical society and the Crow Festival.
Doug Dunlap, 66, said he supported the village president and other incumbents.
"The people on the board have done a good job," said Dunlap, who has lived in Lyndon nearly his entire life.
He added that the village has a healthy business community, noting the existence of light manufacturing, machine shops and a business that makes high-end motorcycle parts, among other companies.
"They really help the tax base," he said. "I hope the town understands that. I want to make sure our businesses are treated right."
Higgins couldn't be reached for comment.
In the Lyndon election, the only unopposed candidate is Shelly Moore, who is running for village clerk. She took over the clerk's responsibilities after Pilgrim was fired.
Candidates in Lyndon
Occupation: Location manager for Ryder Integrated Logistics
Education: Graduate of Prophetstown High School
Government experience: Village president of Lyndon for 4 years, trustee for 4 years.
Family: Husband, Francis; children, Lisa Gleason, Robert Stone, Terry Stone and Traci Barrett
Education: Graduate of Lyndon High School; attended Illinois State University for 2 years
Occupation: Nearly 20 years as administrative council secretary at Lyndon Methodist Church, owned and operated Stone's Tree Trimming
VILLAGE BOARD OF TRUSTEES
Family: Wife, Kathleen; children, Lisa Gleason, Robert Stone, Terry Stone and Traci Barrett
Education: Attended Prophetstown High School
Occupation: Worked at John Deere for 30 years, union steward.
Government experience: Served on Lyndon board of trustees in late 1980s
Family: Wife, Alma; stepdaughters, Tracy Wannemacher and Amanda Wannemacher
Education: Graduate of Lyndon High School
Occupation: Worked for ComEd for 31 years, retiring as an overhead field supervisor in 2002. Served in Navy.
Family: Wife, Lorna; children, John, Ben and Sam Engwall
Education: High school in Manistee, Mich.; bachelor's degree from Olivet College in Kankakee; master's degree from Northern Illinois University.
Occupation: Retired as Tampico school administrator
Government experience: Member of Lyndon board of trustees
Education: Graduate of high school in Genoa
Occupation: Retired from private cable business
Family: Wife, Lonna; children, Brian Zschiesche, Lisa McCullough and Brad Zschiesche
Education: Graduate of Prophetstown High School; attended Western Illinois University for a year
Occupation: Retired from General Electric
Government experience: Lyndon Township clerk since 1998
Dwaine "D.J." Sikkema
Family: Wife, Regina, two children
Education: Graduate of Morrison High School, mechanical engineering degree from Morrison Institute of Technology
Occupation: Factory worker in quality control
Government experience: Member of Lyndon board of trustees for 4 years
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