ROCK FALLS – Coloma Township has a new supervisor, and it's likely he won't need many introductions.
Former Rock Falls Mayor David Blanton was appointed to serve out the term of Debra Burke, who retired May 14 after taking the blame for years of financial reporting problems within the township office. Burke's term was set to expire in 2017.
Blanton and Bethany Bland, Rock Falls Chamber of Commerce executive director, were the only candidates. Both were at the board meeting Wednesday, where they answered questions from trustees, township staff and the public.
When asked why they thought they were the best person for the job, Bland stressed communication and organization.
"I would bring open communication to the office," Bland said. "I have a history of working with programs to organize finances, and I have a technology background that would help put a system in place and get the public more involved."
Blanton stressed his experience as a businessman and government official.
"I have run a business in multiple locations for 27 years," Blanton said. "I have worked with local government on every level, and been on federal and state boards. I know that the more people work together, the better everything works."
The board then went into executive session for about 10 minutes prior to recommending a candidate and taking a vote.
After returning to open session, trustee Butch Neal introduced a motion to appoint Blanton. The motion was seconded by Peggy McFadden, and carried 4-0. Trustee Gene Jacoby was absent.
Township Clerk Pam Erby said the board was fortunate to have two high-caliber candidates to choose from. She said that Blanton's familiarity with local government swayed the board in the former mayor's direction.
"We had two good candidates, but Dave has a great deal of experience working with local government, and with all different bodies – city, county and township," Erby said.
Bland and Blanton are friends, and both said had they known the other was interested sooner, they might not have sought the appointment. They knew there were two candidates, but found out only a few days ago who the other person was.
"Dave is an excellent choice for this job," Bland said after the vote. "I will offer any help he may need. I see this as a civic duty, and if we don't take the initiative, we can't expect anything better than what we got."
Blanton said he has no delusions about what he is about to take on.
"I realize this is a big job, but when I asked myself if I wanted to come out of retirement, I said yes because I believe I can help fix this," Blanton said.
Blanton said the first thing he will do is talk to staff individually and get perspective on the township's problems.
"Getting upset doesn't help anything," he said. "Compared to what I saw when I first came into the mayor's office, this is nothing. We'll all sit down, learn the operations, and resolve our problems."
Blanton was to be sworn in at 9 a.m. today.