Streator Mayor Tara Bedei facing challenge from Councilman Brian Crouch

4 of 5 seats up for election on the Streator council

Streator City Hall

With a mayoral race and four of five City Council seats up for grabs, the April 4 municipal election is sure to be significant in setting the direction for Streator.

Mayor Tara Bedei, who was appointed mayor in January to succeed Jimmie Lansford, is asking voters for a full term leading the city. Councilman Brian Crouch, who has been on the council for nine years, will oppose Bedei for the mayor’s seat.

Streator Mayor Tara Bedei (left) is sworn-in Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022, by City Clerk Patricia Henderson (right) in the council chambers of City Hall. Bedei is Streator's first female mayor.

Incumbents Timothy Geary and Jacob Darby filed to run for two open four-year seats on the council, along with David Reed and Anthony Hartley. Geary was appointed to the council in September 2021 to succeed Joe Scarbeary, who resigned to accept a full-time position as the city’s building inspector. Darby was appointed to take Bedei’s seat when she was appointed mayor.

David “Moose” Conner and Scott Scheuer filed to run for an open two-year seat on the council, which will fulfill the remainder of the term vacated by Scarbeary.

Brian Crouch

Bedei and Crouch were the top vote getters in the 2019 council race. Bedei has served on the council the longest of any current member, taking her seat in September 2013. Crouch has the second-longest tenure, joining the council in 2014.

Crouch said he was inspired to run, because he’s seen “things slow down a lot” in the city in the past year.

“Right now, we’re in a decline and we have to do some things to attract industry and more jobs that can provide for families,” Crouch said, noting Owens-Illinois’ recent announcement it was laying off 161 employees. “We have to work on getting new businesses other than fast food and things like that.”

Bedei said she’s looking to build on the areas where Streator has shown growth, including the city’s downtown. She pointed to the city acquiring a housing rehabilitation grant as an area where improvements will be implemented. She also said she’s working on a strategic plan with the Park Board on what’s needed to improve parks and recreation, and hoping to recruit more officers to the police force through involvement with the police and fire commissions.

“I’m hoping to push economic development more,” said Bedei, who said she wants to start a dialogue with Owens-Illinois on the company’s future in Streator.

Bedei said there has been change in the past year on the council, with her appointment to mayor and Geary and Darby joining the council, and believes there will be more stability after April’s election.

“I have a greater appreciation for what the job entails than a year ago,” Bedei said of taking on the mayor role, which includes being liquor commissioner. “I have that knowledge and understanding of what I see everyday as mayor than what I was seeing and dealing with on the council.”

Crouch said specifically he was not happy with how the city went about establishing its ambulance service. Streator took control of providing 911 ambulance service after Advanced Medical Transport, the city’s former ambulance provider, asked for a subsidy from taxpayers. The city contracted personnel and billing, and launched the service Oct. 1.

The councilman said the city knew about AMT’s request for a subsidy in February and should not have taken until July and August to have bid proposals out to other companies for personnel.

“Had an (request for proposal) been issued, we could’ve been much farther along and dealt with other things,” Crouch said.

Bedei said the city was able to establish a 911 ambulance service in the matter of eight months and accept a bid for personnel within four months. She said the city manager and fire chief met with neighboring communities in the first couple of months to get an idea of the best way to set up an ambulance service, because she said the goal is establish a service that will break even, and not come at an additional cost to taxpayers. In the beginning stages of setting up the ambulance service, Bedei said she was meeting with the city manager daily to keep tabs on the progress.

She said staying on top of how the newly-launched ambulance service is doing both financially and in its performance is a priority if she were to keep the mayor’s seat.