In 2002, Brad Zeller discontinued raising livestock on his farm, opening up some time in his schedule. Brad decided to run for a county commissioner position and dedicate that time to serving his community. He began his first term on the three member commission in 2002 and began his second term in 2008. The three current commissioners have worked together for eight years and Brad says his experience on the bi-partisan commission has been a consistently positive one.
Brad proudly lives and works on his family’s centennial farm in Morgan County, carrying on the Zeller farming tradition. He calls himself fortunate to run his family farm because he is the youngest of three sons and the business would typically go to the elder sons. Brad’s brothers discovered interests outside of agriculture, so he returned to the farm in 1979 to work alongside his parents after graduating from the University of Illinois.
Morgan County initially adopted a commission style government because of its agricultural and rural roots. The structure is designed to adapt to the agricultural schedule, with the commission’s busiest times coordinating with farming’s slowest, and vice versa. For example, some of Brad’s most time-intensive months as a commissioner happen when planting and harvesting is done.
During mid-summer, the commission gathers with elected officials and administrators in the county to set a budget for the coming fiscal year, which runs from September 1st to August 31st. This process could have its challenges, but Brad says, “We’ve been very fortunate to have a great working relationship with these professionals. There are never any contentious moments during the meetings, making it a very smooth process.”
One of the Commissioners’ other primary responsibilities includes The Board of Review for all property assessments in Morgan County. The Assessor’s Office handle the initial reviews, which helps determine property tax. If a homeowner has questions about their property assessment, they have a right to file a challenge to the Commissioner’s office.
This winter saw a high in assessment challenges, with the County Commissioners reviewing over 1100 complaints. The commissioners have dedicated themselves to addressing each case individually and have nearly completed this year’s process. Brad says it is important to the commissioners that everyone in the county knows that they have the right to an appeal and that the process is “open and easy.” He calls the Board of Review “a vital part of our job”
Brad says that he wants individuals to know that the County Commissioner’s Office has an “open door policy.” The office is “always open to the public and we look forward to answering any questions.”
While Brad’s work commitments keep him busy year-round, he enjoys playing an occasional round of golf. The sport provides a great way to relax and spend time with busy friends. “I’m not very good,” Brad says, “but I enjoy golfing with my friends.”
The Zellers have two sons, a daughter, and a grandchild and enjoy traveling to visit them. Their children have varying interests and live in Illinois and Tennessee, so there are ample opportunities for travel. Brad also enjoys the occasional visit to Florida or Mexico to escape the long winter for a week at a time.
Brad calls it an honor to work and live on the farm of his youth in the community he grew up in. Four years ago, he took down the original farmhouse and built a new home in the same location. He is looking forward to working on the farm, then retiring in the updated home.