TISKILWA — The race for Tiskilwa village president ended by a hair Tuesday evening with a just a 5-vote margin.
Newcomer Michael Murray leads with 91 votes (51.41%) over longtime incumbent Charles “Randy” Philhower’s 86 votes (48.59%).
Bureau County has 25 outstanding ballots, however Bureau County Clerk Matt Eggers confirmed Wednesday none are out of the Tiskilwa precincts, therefore Murray is on track to be seated as Tiskilwa’s next village president.
Philhower, who has served as village president the last four terms, said he isn’t distraught over the outcome. It was one of those cases where if he won, he’d be willing to work another four years for Tiskilwa, if he didn’t win, he wasn’t going to be “distraught.”
Philhower said he wasn’t going to run for village president this time around, but didn’t want to leave the seat vacant so decided to turn in a petition last minute not knowing that Murray had turned in a petition as well.
Philhower said being self-employed has always allowed him the time to be able to take on the duties as village president. But he wouldn’t mind taking a step back. He said Murray is taking on a big challenge.
Murray, 28, has only lived in Tiskilwa for two years, but is passionate about its people and small-town charm.
On Wednesday, Murray said he was excited and humbled to have received 91 votes and see that many people believed in him.
He said Philhower has done a great job and he hopes to try to do as well as him, make strides, but go his own direction.
Being most likely one of Bureau County’s youngest village presidents, Murray said he’s always enjoyed helping people and has a little background in politics from his college years. Being village president in a small town not only will be about helping others, but allow him to build strong relationships with the residents, he said.
With this being his first time in this type of role, Murray is aware there will be challenges to face, but also looks at them as opportunities.
“There will be learning strides for me and the town’s people. The people were used to the old mayor for 16 years. I’m a new face, younger guy. There will be a lot of learning,” he said.
Murray said he’s ready to listen to ideas on how things can be done to enhance the village. Being only 28 years old, he’d like to look at ways to promote the town in order to attract younger generations to the area and keep it “the gem of the valley.”
Murray said he’s an easy person to reach and encourages people to drop ideas by him. Being a small town, he said many people already know where he lives and he’s out frequently walking his dog around town. He welcomes people to stop and talk about things they might want to see or do in Tiskilwa.
“Thank you to the people who voted for me. I appreciate them for having faith in me. Randy has done a really, really good job. I hope to move forward, take steps in my own way and see where I can go with it,” he said. “I haven’t lived in Tiskilwa long but it’s grown on me. I love this small town and I want to move it forward and make it a town everyone wants to live in.”