Council members face election Nov. 3Published 9:27am Thursday, October 29, 2009
By JESSICA SIEFF
Niles Daily Star
Voters in Niles will go to the polls again next week, though this year’s election is rather unlikely to net the amount of attention seen at voting stations last November.
City council members in the first, second, third and fourth wards will be running unopposed in what will likely be a very critical four-year term.
“I think it’s going to be more challenging in the near future than what it has been in the past,” City Administrator Terry Eull said Wednesday. “There’s just challenges coming up.”
The council is made up of long seated incumbents, giving the governmental body a front row seat to the transition the city, along with state and local governments throughout the country has experienced as the economies on every level have been moving through recession.
On the ballot for the first ward is Patricia Gallagher, who was first elected to council in 1993. She’s been serving ever since.
A supporter of the Support the Fort St. Joseph Society and the Niles Garden Club among other area organizations, Gallagher said the council has plenty to focus on in the coming term.
“Trying to stay within our budget to keep city services going,” she said, noting current economic pressures. “Looking for ways to decrease our energy use … Maybe even creating some of our own.”
Robert Durm currently represents the city’s second ward and has done so since he being appointed to the council in 1995 and elected to a full term in 1997. Durm is described on the city’s official Web site as a native of the city and a member of the city’s Personnel Review Committee.
William Weimer Sr. has been serving the City of Niles as a representative for the third ward since 1999 and stated on the site that he is “proud to be of service to my community and in fact, have served many years on various city boards and community projects.”
When voters hit the polls in the fourth ward, they will be doing so with councilman Tim Skalla on the ballot, who was elected to the council in 2006.
Asked her opinion on why there were no opponents on the ballot this year, Gallagher said she thought the issue could be credited to fear of failure. “I think it’s human failing,” she said, adding that had an opponent run for her seat in her ward she would continue to run. “I think we’re all afraid of failure, of beating an opponent … Failure keeps us kind of timid.”
Regardless of the outcome, she said, in the end, “I think whoever is there truly has the city’s best interests at heart.”
Voting will take place on Tuesday all across the state.
“Because voting is the foundation of democracy, I encourage you to make your voice heard by participating in your local election,” Secretary of State Terry Lynn Land said in a statement last week.
There are just a few days left to obtain an absentee ballot.
“If you’re unable to make it to the polls in person on Nov. 3, you may qualify for an absentee ballot,” Land said.
Registered voters qualify for an absentee ballot under the following:
Age 60 or older
Physically unable to attend the polls without the assistance of another
Expecting to be out of town for the entire time the polls are open on Election Day
In jail awaiting arraignment or trial
Unable to attend the polls due to religious decisions
Appointed to work as an election inspector in a precinct outside of the voter’s own precinct of residence.
Applications for absentee ballots must be submitted by 2 p.m. Saturday. The Secretary of State’s office states those ballots can be picked up through 4 p.m. Monday at the local clerk’s office.