Printer Friendly Version

Village Vision News

Five candidates vie for three seats on the Village Board

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Editor’s Note: With the election coming right up on April 7, here’s a chance for voters to get to know something more about the five candidates vying for three trustee seats on the Village Board. Two incumbents are running as are three new candidates, two of whom are taking their first cracks at winning elective office. The five candidates are presented here in alphabetical order.

Sidney J. Audiffred

5244 Yavapai Dr.
Age: 73
Family: Wife, Fay, and two grown children
Occupation: Retired engineer, Caterpillar
Education: BS, Mechanical Engineering, University of Southwestern Louisiana
Native of Louisiana

Sid Audiffred and his wife Fay are both natives of Louisiana, “Cajuns,” as he likes to say proudly. They’ve lived in Forsyth for 20 years and will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary this summer. The Audiffreds came to Illinois in 1965 with Caterpillar and spent 22 years in Washington, Ill., before transferring with the company to the Decatur area in 1987.

Audiffred held numerous engineering and managerial jobs in the Peoria area, with his last being factory manager of track type tractors. In 1987, Caterpillar transferred him to the Decatur plant as chief engineer of off-highway trucks. He retired in 1999 after 34 years of service. His last position was product manager of large mining products.

Audiffred knows the local area very well, having lived here for 28 years. He believes Forsyth’s strengths are that it is safe, friendly, with an educated population, that it’s a growing and financially stable community.

This is his first time running for any public office, and his candidacy stems, he says, “from his intense interest in and for Forsyth.”

He believes that to be effective he must work with trustees and staff to maintain and sustain Forsyth’s excellent quality of life. He adds that a good trustee should be caring, concerned and knowledgeable and should come with a love for their community.

Audiffred believes that his engineering education and numerous positions as a manager during his years with Caterpillar would serve him well in the position of trustee.

“I can provide my technical, personal, financial and customer experiences as a member of the village’s board of trustees,” he said.

Audiffred has already served Forsyth in the past on the public works committee and zoning board. He’s also been a regular attendee and public contributor at a majority of village board meetings over the last six years or so.

He believes that the biggest challenges to the village are devising effective short- and long- term strategies. In addition, he sees maintaining and controlling spending during times of slow-growth as crucial.

While we have no major problems facing us immediately, he said, his goal is to maintain our excellent community. He said we should communicate and work with the county and with adjacent villages on issues, structure, staff experience, asset sharing and efficiency. As an example he suggested a Macon County water district.

Restoring faith in the political process requires that those elected should communicate and listen and be representatives of the people while putting aside personal agendas. And, he is a strong supporter of term limits.

For fun, Audiffred has a number of hobbies, including: golfing, fishing, gardening, wood working and collecting and shooting vintage firearms.

For voters, Audiffred describes himself as: knowledgeable, caring, involved and conservative.

Renee Jones

1257 Talon Lane
Age: 35
Family: Husband, Michael, two young children
Occupation: Accounting Manager, ADM
Education: BS, Economics & Business, Accountancy, minor in Political Science, Illinois College
Hometown: Mount Olive Ill.

Renee Jones and her young family have made Forsyth home for three years now. She believes the community’s greatest strength is the sense of ownership and responsibility portrayed by the community.

“It is very clear that everyone has great pride for our village,” she said.

This is her first time running for elective office. Her reason for running is related to her interest in the economic development of Forsyth as both a community member and a parent.

“Over the last three years, I’ve seen many businesses come and go,” she said. “Recently, we’ve seen some big losses at Hickory Point Mall. I’m looking forward to bringing some great ideas for economic and community development in the area.”

Jones thinks an effective village trustee is one who listens to the community and takes their concerns into consideration and makes sound decisions, based on facts and strategic thinking. She believes a good trustee should be committed to the village and its future.

She cites her 12 years of experience in finance at ADM and her political science education as part of what has prepared her and qualified her for the job of trustee. Her community involvement includes volunteering as committee chair for the Tot Trot of the Shoreline Classic. She also serves on the Family Fest Planning Committee.

The biggest challenges facing the community, according to Jones, are seeking out and maintaining the right businesses to satisfy the community, in addition to funding the needs of the village.

Jones’s favorite things to do when she’s not working are spending time with her family, and she loves to travel.

Here’s what she says voters should know about her: “First and foremost, I’m a wife and mother. I’m passionate about the endeavors I take on, and I thrive on that feeling of accomplishment when a goal is met. I’m often told that my initiative, integrity and strategic thinking are my strongest competencies; and that when I’m met with a challenge I sink my teeth in and don’t let go until it’s complete.”

Jim Peck

335 Forsyth Parkway
Age: 55
Family: Wife Lisa, three grown kids, one granddaughter, Stevie
Occupation: Facilities Manager, DMH
Education: Maroa-Forsyth High School, Richland Community College
Hometown: Forsyth

Jimmy Peck was raised here in Forsyth and has lived here his whole life except for 10 years in his 20s when he lived in Decatur.

He sees the community’s strengths as small-town values, great school systems, low taxes, sales tax revenue and hotel motel tax revenue. And, he’s no newcomer to elective office since he was elected four times to serve on the Maroa Forsyth school board.

Peck believes that an effective trustee should be a good listener and an outside-of-the-box thinker when it comes to moving things forward. He said he’s prepared and qualified for the job based on his 16 years as Maroa-Forsyth Board of Education president. In addition, his qualifications include owning and operating a business and his current job as facilities manager for the third largest employer in Decatur, where he oversees building and maintenance of more than 20 different properties.

His community involvement includes: Currently on the planning and zoning commission, past president of the Maroa-Forsyth Board of Education, past president of the Metro Decatur Homebuilders Association, former board member of the Decatur Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, former board member of the United Way and former admin team member of First Christian Church in Decatur.

The biggest challenges Peck sees involve economic development.

“We are in neutral or falling behind other surrounding communities,” he said. “We have to find a way to bring new business to town and to retain what businesses we already have.”

A couple of goals he’d set are building more affordable starter homes for young families and bringing more business to town. He’d like to see a grocery store, new restaurants and a gas station/convenience store.

When he’s not working, he likes to spend time with his family, ride his Harley, help with Trojan football and he loves to cheer on his “beloved Cincinnati Reds.”

Peck describes himself to voters this way: “I’m a hometown guy who loves his community. I will show up to all meetings prepared. I will be accessible. I will listen to my community and then make choices that I feel are the best for the majority of our community.”

Larry Reed

749 Stevens Creek Boulevard
Age: 72
Family: Wife Carol, three grown children, one granddaughter
Occupation: retired, Decatur Public Schools
Education: BS, ISU; MS, EIU
Hometown: Decatur

Larry Reed and his wife Carol have lived in Forsyth since 2001. He has served as a trustee for three terms, with only Mayor Marilyn Johnson serving longer. He seeks one more term before he retires, and his reason is simple:
“Because there are a few more things I hope we can accomplish,” he says.

Reed’s goals include finding a new, reliable water source close to the village, which he says will be a challenge. He’d also like to work with the school district to get a middle school for the village. Reed noted that the Decatur Park District has received a grant to expand a recreational path into Forsyth, and he’d like to see this path connect with other paths in the village.

Reed said he’s happy that three goals he set when he ran the first time have been accomplished. A new water source was established and a new water treatment plant was completed, both of which gave Forsyth better quality water, he said.
Another accomplishment he is proud of is the new elementary school, where “families have enjoyed quality education,” he said. He said he’d like to see some housing built near the school but admits the project hasn’t looked very likely in recent years.

Thirdly, Reed said he finally got a village administrator to agree with him about shedding village debt, and approximately $1.5 million in bonds were paid off in 2013. Reed said the money was earning less than ¼ percent as bondholders were being paid at more than 2.5 percent. About $200,000 in interest was saved that year, he said.
Reed plans to continue his stellar attendance record, having only missed one or two meetings in the 12 years he’s served on the board. That’s 24 board meetings per year over that period.

His involvement with Forsyth Fest includes both planning and working the event. He’s on the planning committee for the Forsyth Chili Fest, is a trustee for the Hickory Point Fire Protection District and is a member of Forsyth Rotary.

He sees a reduction in sales tax revenue due to loss of sales at local businesses as a big challenge. He said we need strategies to attract new “hot” businesses and to help struggling ones keep going.

Reed said voters should know that he’s “willing to take the time necessary to help Forsyth continue to be an attractive place to live, shop and dine.”

Kerstin Trachtenberg

923 Stevens Creek Circle
Age: 54
Family: Husband, two daughters, son-in-law and first grandchild, Oliver
Occupation: Homemaker
Education: BA Communication and Marketing
Hometown: St. Louis

Kerstin Trachtenberg has made Forsyth her home for 14 years. She believes our community strengths lie in its healthy financial position, its park, paths and library, its public works department and administrative staff members who take great care to maintain the village. And, there’s a good base for sales and hotel/motel tax revenue, she says.

As an incumbent, one reason she’s running again has to do with an original goal she set the first time she ran: “To encourage economic development within the professional staff of the village.”

She said that since Village Administrator David Strohl recently created and filled the economic development position she wants to remain involved and “serve as trustee while this new employee gets her position up and running,” she said.

Trachtenberg said she’s proud of encouraging the change in the village’s legal representation, which she said lowered costs and resulted in greater transparency.

She said an effective village trustee should have these qualities: Honesty, financial responsibility, critical thinking, and a willingness to listen and reconsider your position. She’s prepared for the job, she said, based in part on being a former marketing professional, where she sharpened her budgeting, planning, management and analytical skills.

Trachtenberg is chair the Family Fest Planning Committee (second year), and she’s a volunteer for CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate for abused and neglected children), where she serves on its board of directors. She’s helped with many fundraisers for local non-profits, most recently Zoo-rific, a party that raises money for Scovill Zoo.

She sees a couple of big challenges ahead: 1) While not a village board issue, the Maroa-Forsyth School District’s financial situation must be corrected for Forsyth to continue to draw new residents to the community. 2) More than 80 percent of the village’s general fund comes from sales tax revenue, and recently we have seen two anchors at the mall close. The tenuous position of malls across the country is of great concern.

Here’s how she approaches her role in public service: “I do my best to be a good steward of the taxpayers’ money. When I am faced with a spending decision, I look at it as an expenditure of my own money. I’m a taxpayer too.”

She loves spending time with her family — especially her new grandson — and she loves to cook, garden, knit, write and travel.

For voters, she sums up her philosophy this way: “I have no political aspirations. My only intention as a candidate is to serve the community that has been such a wonderful home for my family.” 

^ Back to Top ^

Site by HomeSight, LLC