Dalton, Harris Exit from County Board
By Randy Pierce
Liz Dalton of Collinsville and Erica Harriss of Glen Carbon are among the members of the Madison County Board who participated in their final meeting on Wednesday, November 16, and offered farewell statements upon being encouraged to do so by Chairman Kurt Prenzler.
Dalton, who is losing her seat on the board as a result of redistricting that reduced the number of members from 29 to 26, stated she would like to thank everyone who made it possible for her to serve in that role including the constituents who “have been very supportive over the 10-year period” she has held the position.
“I enjoyed it very much, it’s had its ups and downs,” Dalton, a Democrat, commented, “and the only thing that I’d like to say to the new members and the present members is: this is a serious position.”
“Your constituents put you here to approve and disprove different things that go on in our county and you need to be present at your meetings, the county board and the committee meetings, because that’s where the policies are made and you can’t take it lightly and say ‘If I wanna come I will or if I don’t wanna come I’ll still get paid’ because this is taxpayer money that you’re receiving. I wish all of you well and do a great job in the future and keep Madison County Number One.”
Republican Harriss is giving up her county board seat as a result of her election victory over Kris Tharp of Bethalto in the race for Illinois state senator for the 56th legislative district.
She asked Prenzler, “Are you gonna gavel me at three minutes?” in reference to the procedure used at such meetings to limit the time for comments from the public, “I have a lot to say,” but then clarified that she was joking.
“Six years ago, when I ran for county board,” Harriss said, “I never thought that I could do anything in politics but, like many of you, wanted to do something for my community, saw an issue that I wanted to do something about.”
“That was property taxes,” she continued. “Many of you who were on the board with me at that time and I’m so proud that we all, as a team, were able to not just talk about reducing taxes but, being smart with taxpayer dollars, that we were able to do something about it and have continued to do that. So super proud of that.”
Shifting directions, Harriss went on, “Another element, I think, in politics, a lot of times we focus on the fact that there are two parties on different sides and think this board has transcended that a little bit. I think we have done a good job and I’m proud to be part of this group to recognize that we win together and we lose together.”
“While we each have districts that we represent, if one district is failing, then we are all failing so I’m very happy to be part of this and look forward to see where the board continues on.”
Other outgoing board members, their successors to take over their positions in December with the exception of Dalton and one other whose seat was eliminated, were invited by Prenzler to deliver messages of farewell.
Prior to the end of the same meeting, one of the board’s members, Nick Petrillo of Granite City, thanked those who are departing for their service and after congratulating Harriss, told her, “I know you will work hard to represent District 56.”
Along with expressing his appreciation to Jack Minner for his role as a “mentor for so many of us,” Petrillo further praised others “for enduring one of the nastiest campaigns I’ve seen in Madison County.”
In closing his comments, Petrillo added, “This is really a tough one. To a lady that I have held in very high esteem who served with true character, humility and integrity, thank you, thank you, thank you for your service to this county, Debra Ming-Mendoza.”
Democrat Mendoza was defeated in her reelection effort for the county clerk seat by a Republican challenger, Linda Andreas.