PEORIA — A longtime Peoria County Board member is moving on.
Allen Mayer, who has served on the board since the end of 2004, will resign effective next Wednesday. He plans to move to Springfield as he continues his service as chief of staff to state Treasurer Mike Frerichs.
“Springfield’s gain is definitely Peoria’s loss,” said fellow board member Jimmy Dillon. “There’s nobody in my tenure that has come more prepared and known how government works and how to make things better for people in Peoria County than Allen Mayer.”
Most important, of course, is understanding the “rule of 10,” Mayer said, pointing to the fact that nothing can get done without a majority on the 18-member panel — meaning collaboration is a must.
Mayer pointed to a series of actions he’s proud of during his tenure, from in-the-weeds achievements representing the nitty-gritty of good government to large-scale accomplishments.
Among them, he said, were being “known as the guy who stopped the expansion of the hazardous waste landfill in my first term,” helping create a bipartisan countywide election commission, preserving the county-owned Heddington Oaks nursing home, and requiring a rotation in the external auditors the county uses after three decades with the same firm.
“In life, you know, you want to leave the world a better place than you found it, and I’m really pleased that I can say that Peoria County and Peoria County government are in better shape now than when I first got on the board in 2004,” he said.
Mayer sounded some cautions, though, to board members. Early in his tenure, he said, things were more personality-driven and replete with “gotcha politics” on the board.
“My caution would be that it’s great to have strong opinions and to believe in your policies or your party, but to make sure you listen to the opposition, and that when you’re voting and trying to enact policies that you make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons,” he said
Mayer became quite well known in his district for regularly knocking on residents’ doors, even when it wasn’t election season.
“I think it served me well, and I think it served the citizens well, because they had somebody who was listening to them,” he said. “Talking to people, even if they don’t agree with you on every single issue, and making a human connection is something I think is very important, especially for something as local as the County Board.”
Board members have 60 days to select a replacement who, like Mayer, must be a Democrat. The district is bordered roughly by Interstate 74 on the south and west, Lake Street on the north and Sheridan Road on the east — though some portions between War Memorial Drive and McClure extend east to North Street.
Mayer said he doesn’t have anyone in mind for the post, but expressed a hope that it would be a “mainstream Democrat,” noting that he represented a “very, very diverse district, and whoever gets selected needs to understand that. … It’s not just a Democratic district, and they need to listen to (everyone).”
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May 8, 2019 at 05:43PM