NEWS

Local Contested Political Races

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record
Linda Koepke

Linda Koepke, 64, of Sherrard, seeks to continue as a board member for District 3. The official Nov. 3, 2020 ballot lists only one Mercer County Board seat that has more than one candidate and that is in District 3. District 3 covers areas encompassing Sherrard, Matherville and Preemption.

The ballot indicates the voter is to choose one -- either Linda Koepke (R) or Larry Stone (D).

Koepke was appointed to a vacant District 3 board seat in September 2019, a month after board member Ron Fullerlove of Sherrard resigned his board seat and was approved as the county’s new administrator. Fullerlove replaced the Moline CPA firm of Bohnsack and Frommelt which was hired in June 2018.

Koepke has been married to her husband Dean for 36 years and has two adult children. She retired from Sherrard CUSD 200 after a 32-year stint in the transportation department, mostly as a bus driver. She was last listed as the director of transportation for the Sherrard school district in 2015.

While on the Mercer County Board she serves on the Insurance, Property, Economic Development committees and is on the Public Building Commission.

Larry Stone, Democratic candidate for Mercer County Board District 3

Larry Stone, 76, of Sherrard, is running as a Democratic candidate for a position on the Mercer County Board in District 3. He is no stranger to political office. He was elected in 2012 to the Mercer County Board for a two-year stint. While there he was on the finance and transportation committees. He also was a representative on the Project NOW board.

In addition Stone served for nearly 40 years on the Sherrard School Board. He is a widower and has two living adult children. He lives in Sherrard. Stone retired from a career in the transportation industry, last working in Milwaukee, Wis., as a dock supervisor.

He said he decided to run for election this time “because I was asked by the Democratic Party to run.” He claims he had no passionate reason to run, but rather “just wants to serve our district. I never really had an agenda.”

Stone sees one of his strengths is being a good listener and thinks his previous service on boards has prepared him to think outside the box and possibly come up with original solutions to problems.

One area he would like to address is improving Mercer County roads. “I wish Mercer County could get out of the dark ages with their roads,” he said. “We don’t build, we just patch,” he added.

He sees another of his strengths coming from his work on the Sherrard school board. “I’ve been through teacher strikes,” he said. Over the years on that board his biggest joy was seeing the look on students’ faces at graduation. “You look out and see faces looking up at you. You’ve perfected their lives in a positive way.”

Meeghan N. Lee, Democrat for Mercer County State’s Attorney

Meeghan N. Lee, 41, is a Democrat seeking reelection as the Mercer County State’s Attorney, She has worked out of the State’s Attorney office for 14 ½ years, including 8 ½ years as assistant state’s attorney.

She is daughter of Graham and Patricia Lee, who retired from their East Moline law firm. She also has a brother serving in the law, Hon. Clayton R. Lee, an Illinois Appellate Court judge in the 14th judicial district.

Meeghan is a graduate of Purdue University; was a student at Bordeaux University (France Law School Exchange Program); and received a doctorate degree from Northern Illinois University of law. She has given oral arguments before the Appellate Court, worked at Zeke Giorgi Battered Women's Clinic in Rockford and is a published author for the Kane County Bar Journal.

She is running because she sees there is more work to be done in Mercer County. “As time passes, new challenges always occur,” she said. Her main emphasis has been on shutting down meth labs and keeping area streets clean of crime and vandalism. “The job is ongoing, It does not stop between the hours of 8 to 5.”

She said she intends to “make it my mission to personally work with all of the law enforcement organizations at my disposal. It is my strong belief that together we can make a difference and keep Mercer County a safe place to live and raise our families.”

For the last 14 1/2 years Mercer County has been Lee’s home. “My family roots run deep. Those who work with me and those who know me know that I stand behind my word. My actions have supported my community, and to that end I will continue to help fund law enforcement wherever and whenever possible.”

“Funding is always an issue,” she added. She would like to pursue any available law enforcement grants. “In a small community, we cannot afford to lose any of our valuable men and women who help arrest those who break the law.”

She is also concerned with domestic violence and crimes against children which she said “cannot and will not be tolerated.”

“It would be wonderful if we could completely drive out of Mercer County -- meth producers, those who hurt children, as well as those who consider it acceptable to perpetrate domestic violence.”

Lee says she is tough on crime.  “I am a fighter, always have been, and I want Mercer County to know that they can depend on me to be experienced, tenacious, knowledgeable and extremely reliable.”

Biographical questions:

Name: Grace Simpson

Party: Republican

Age: 28

Family: Gary and Gina Simpson of Alexis (Parents), Gretchen (Simpson) Alwardt, Sister

Education: University of Illinois – Undergraduate Degrees in Agriculture and Consumer Economics, Spanish, Public Policy and Law and Contemporary Management and Experiential Learning

Southern Illinois University School of Law – Juris Doctorate – Member of the SIU Law Republican Party

Occupation: Assistant State’s Attorney

Political experience: I have obtained a wide range of experience while working at the Henry County State’s Attorney’s Office. I have participated in more than ten jury trials while employed. My experience ranges from Sex offenses, drug trafficking, driving under the influence, batteries and many more. I began my career in traffic court and quickly progressed into felony court. I am well versed in all the cases that would be presented to me in Mercer County and my experience demonstrates that.

Issue questions:

Why are you running?

I have always found passion in being a part of a State’s Attorney’s Office and this county is my home. I am young but am extremely skilled. It’s crucial that we start allowing younger individuals in office to make the necessary changes for our future. When I looked at the statistics in Mercer County, I couldn’t ignore the changes that need to be made. Over 20% of the felony cases filed in 2019 were dismissed. This is unacceptable. The people of Mercer County deserve consistency, and professional leadership within their State’s Attorney. That is not happening. I believe I can be the change that Mercer County so

desperately needs. Specifically, the drug problem needs to be addressed. We need to do a better job of holding individuals accountable for their crimes, while still attempting to help rehabilitate themselves. We must prosecute cases that have victims i.e. theft, burglary, forgery and make sure those victims are made whole again.

Discuss the issues you feel need to be addressed.

If elected, I hope to work closely with police officers, as we do in Henry County. We have a great relationship with our departments and I hope to transfer that over to Mercer County. Additionally, we work diligently with probation to make sure those that were given a chance at probation are doing what they are supposed to be doing. Follow-up is key to having a state’s attorney’s office be successful. It takes a village to make the court system function properly and I don’t believe that’s currently happening in regards to the state’s attorney’s office. Overall, we must be more consistent and strict on prosecuting drug cases. We must be prosecuting in a timely manner so that victims and people alike can move on with their lives, afterall our office represents the people.

Biographical questions:

Name: Dan Swanson

Party: Republican

Age: 61

Family: Married to Tammy, Mark & Abbi; Matt & Sarah, granddaughter Sadie

Education: Western Illinois University, Board of Governors Degree Program, BA;  United States Army Command and General Staff College; Black Hawk, Jr. College, East Campus and AlWood Jr./Sr. High School

Occupation: Currently State Representative;  Lifetime Farmer and Lieutenant Colonel (retired – United States Army) over 27 years

Political experience:  2-years Henry County Board; 4 years Illinois House of Representatives

Issue questions:

Why are you running?: I am seeking re-election to continue representing the people in the 74th District.  During the four years of service in a minority party I have successfully passed 14 pieces of legislation concerning health care, medical insurance, veterans, active duty service members, agriculture, teachers, newborn screening, business and students.  I serve you in the Illinois House.  Of the 14 pieces of legislation I passed, 10 of those were brought to me by constituents and the other four were from State Agency directors.  The only way I can serve you is to be visible and approachable.  I enjoy walking in the 23 – 25 parades each year (this year 2); the many pancake breakfasts, the FFA Banquets, 4H fair and auctions, the luncheons….all those things that give me an opportunity to listen to what you have to say.  I especially like visiting and talking about Illinois government at the schools and just being with young people.  I share this with you, because I feel it is my responsibility to be seen throughout the district.  You provide me direction, ideas and guidance on “how best” to represent and serve you in Springfield.  Providing constituent services throughout my district office is important to help remedy a State agency issue or concern.  I am running to serve “YOU”!

Discuss the issues you feel need to be addressed.  Taxes, unfunded mandates, ethics and broadband services.  We can't continue to increase taxes and not reduce spending.  Unlike our households, Illinois government must learn to live within its means.  The additional unfunded mandates that burden our local schools and governments create a higher property tax on property owners.  Too many times, our schools or county governments are required to "do something" that costs additional unplanned expenses and as they fight their own budgets, the results are property tax referendums.  State government could do their share in reducing our property taxes.  Ethics reform is a top priority.  As I talk with people about what is going on, it is difficult to explain how it's OK to resign from office one day and become a lobbyist the next.  District 74 is extremely rural.  With the additional requirements of remote learning, stay at home shopping, tele-health and other broadband requirements, many rural providers are not capable of bringing services to areas where it is needed.  This has really been brought to the forefront in recent months.  I continue to work with providers to seek grants to help fill the void.

If elected, what would you focus on, and hope to accomplish?  Taxes, unfunded mandates, ethics and broadband services.  We can't continue to increase taxes and need to focus on reduced spending.  Unlike our households, Illinois government must learn to live within its means.  The additional unfunded mandates that burden our local schools and local units of governments create a higher property tax on property owners.  Too many times, our schools or county governments are required to "do something" that costs additional unplanned expenses to meet the requirements of an unfunded mandate and as they fight their own budgets, the results are property tax referendums.  State government could do their share in reducing our property taxes by allowing local governments to select which mandates must be adhered to or stop these unfunded mandates.  Ethics reform is a top priority.  As I talk with people about what is going on, it is difficult to explain how it's OK to resign from office one day and become a lobbyist the next.  District 74 is extremely rural.  With the additional requirements of remote learning, stay at home shopping, tele-health and other broadband requirements, many rural providers are not capable of bringing services to areas where it is needed.  This has really been brought to the forefront in recent months.  I continue to work with providers to seek grants to help fill the void.

Larry Stone