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Village Vision News

Meet the candidates for April 2 election

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Four candidates are vying for three trustee positions in the upcoming Consolidated Election on April 2. Trustees serve four-year terms. Incumbent Jim Peck is seeking another term. Michelle Guffey, Jeff London and Jeremy Shaw round out the slate; none of the three has sought public office before. Shaw is not technically a newcomer but also is not an incumbent since he stepped in to fill the remainder of longtime Trustee Larry Reed’s term after Reed’s passing last September.

Incumbent

Jim Peck is running for his second term on the Board. He is married to Lisa and they have three grown children and three grandchildren. Peck, the lone Forsyth native running, works as a facilities manager at Decatur Memorial Hospital.

He attended Maroa-Forsyth schools and Richland Community College and has spent almost his entire life living in the Village. In addition, Peck served as Maroa-Forsyth School Board president for a number of years and is a volunteer assistant for the Trojan football team.

“I love my community, and I love public service,” Peck said. “I want to continue to make this community the best place to live and raise a family.

Peck said he would like to see continued steady growth in housing, business and recreation, and he’d like to keep the tax rate low and Village spending in check. Peck thinks the upcoming Prairie Winds subdivision is an important project that will help the community grow.

He’s proud of the integral role he played last year in the Village now flying American flags on some main roads from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

The challenges he sees ahead are Hickory Point Mall’s viability and bringing visitors to town especially on weekends to enjoy local shops, hotels and restaurants.

“These are challenges that I think we are up to,” Peck said.

Familiar face

Jeremy Shaw and his wife Angie have two young children. A native of Maroa, Shaw has worked at Caterpillar for over 18 years and is currently the orders and scheduling manager at the company’s Decatur facility. He has a bachelor’s degree in business administration with minor in economics from Illinois State University and is a graduate of Maroa-Forsyth High School.

The Shaws have made the Village their home for over eight years.

Shaw is running, he said, because he’s enjoyed serving as a trustee over the last five months and wants to continue to serve the community.

“This is home, and I love this community and care about our residents and the future of the Village,” he said. “This community has given so much to me I know I can reciprocate and make a positive impact and contribute to the on-going success of our Village and residents.”

Shaw’s philosophy of public service is to listen, to provide high levels of services to residents, to be business-friendly and to support growth of new residential development by Forsyth being a community where people want to live.

He sees good opportunities ahead for the Village, especially with its strong financial position and hopes to be part of the “important fiscal decisions” that will be made regarding the proposed sports park and community center and the efforts to “attract a grocery store to Forsyth.”

First-time candidates

Michelle Guffey has been a longtime volunteer helping with a Christmas toy drive and helping to feed the homeless during the holiday season. She’s also co-owner of a business — All Area Construction Services — in addition to being a property manager. She is married and has three step children and three grandchildren.

A Decatur native and graduate of Stephen Decatur High School, she studied early childhood development for four years. With her family raised the timing to serve is perfect, she said.

“At this time in my life as we are now empty nesters and with extra free time I would like to get involved at the grass roots level of my community,” Guffey said. “I’d like to share some of my insights and business management skills to help keep Forsyth great.”

Her goals for the Village include: bringing in more new home owners thus expanding the Village’s population and tax revenue base. She’d also like to help bring new businesses to the Route 51 corridor. She added that she’d like to see the continued development of the bike path through the Village.

“The main challenge I see for the Village is the lack of jobs in our local community,” Guffey said. “If we had more local jobs, we could bring in more residents to our Village and build some affordable homes.”

Jeff London and his wife Crystal have five children, with two ready to graduate from Maroa-Forsyth High School in May. They have resided in the Village for six years. A Decatur native who spent his teen years in Moweaqua, he worked 23 years in environmental, health, safety and security. His bachelor’s degree is in community health education from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville.

He’s volunteered as a fireman and for a number of activities with the Maroa- Forsyth schools, including helping with football, track and volleyball. He’s always had the desire to serve the community and schools where he lives.

“With our kids graduating, serving as a Village trustee will allow me to continue to serve the community in a very important role,” he said.

Public servants, he said, should be financially responsible first and foremost. He plans to focus on a few key areas: business sustainability and development; affordable quality housing; and recreational opportunities, which he believes could be enhanced for Forsyth residents and to attract others to the community.

A big challenge for the Village, London said, is retaining current businesses.

“Whether it’s the mall, restaurants or even a future grocery store, people recognize this as an important area for our community,” he said. “Retaining important businesses and continuing to attract new ones will always be a top priority for us.”

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