MT. MORRIS – Phil Labash is the new village president following his victory over Gary DeSmedt and Phillip Scheck in Tuesday’s consolidated election.
Labash, a current village trustee, received 351 votes, (73.4%) compared to 97 for DeSmedt (20.3%) and 30 for Scheck (6.3%).
Labash succeeds Dan Elsasser, and he and will appoint a trustee to fill out the 2 years left on his term.
“Having served the village for 8 years as a trustee, I’m excited to take on the position and the future,” Labash said. “I’m pretty excited to have the chance to lead a good board and take Mt. Morris to the next level. I’ve had a long history of serving, and this is the next step.”
Labash said his top priorities include upgrading infrastructure such as streets and sidewalks, and investing in parks such as Zickuhr Park, the oldest in town.
Labash also wants the village to be more transparent after hearing that concern from residents, and to improve its social media presence.
His top priority, though, is bringing jobs and business to the village.
“I believe a lot in this community,” Labash said. “We’ve taken some shots over the years; losing businesses and jobs is an example. That’s my number one priority, to bring in things like that. We have tools at our disposal like the enterprise zone, TIF money and upgraded fiber. We hope to bring a significant job provider.
“I’m really excited, but I know it’s going to be a lot of work.”
Jim Hopkins (332 votes, 26%), Ed Higley (309 votes, 24%) and Jerry Stauffer (293 votes, 23%) won the three available trustee spots Tuesday, edging out Mike Fay (290 votes, 22%) and Chris Corcoran (76 votes, 6%).
Hopkins, Stauffer and Fay were incumbents. Higley will be a newcomer to the village board.
Village Clerk Paula Diehl ran unopposed Tuesday, but still made an appearance in her polling place at Village Hall to cast her votes.
“It is important,” Diehl said. “Leadership is important. If you want change, this is the time. They decide what goes on here for the foreseeable future. Part of that for me is adapting and helping the next person fall into that role and guide and support them however I can. It isn’t something you step right into. There are challenges.”
Election Judge Sandra Stengel said she saw a nice, steady crowd of voters Tuesday in Mt. Morris. According to ballots cast, 600 of 2,221 registered voters (27%) took to the polls across Mt. Morris’ four precincts.