Jennings to run

Jennings to run

After a lot of consideration I have decided to launch my campaign for South Jacksonville Village President.

I have been asked why I wish to run for village president rather than starting out as a trustee. My answer to that is a simple one … I want to return the power back to the people of South Jacksonville and the board of trustees that represent them. Over the years, the office of village president has acquired too much power. Unlike municipalities that operate under home rule or those that have adopted a “strong mayor” form of government, we do not have a hierarchy here in the village. The village president is not the “boss” of the trustees. The board of trustees and the village president are two different cogs in the same machine. Each entity has its specific duties, outlined by state law and local ordinances. These two entities must work together, in unison. We must work together to resolve conflict and to further progress.

A bit about me: 

I have been active in South Jacksonville politics since 2004. I ran for village president in 2005. I was recently appointed to Illinois’ first ever ethics committee, formed here in South Jacksonville. In March, I was elected as the South Jacksonville 1st Precinct county precinct committeeman. 

I was a police officer and police chief for about 10 years. I am an Army veteran and I currently own a small business in Jacksonville. I graduated from Western Illinois in 1998 with a degree in law enforcement. I obtained another degree from Western Illinois University in 2001 in political science. I later attended University of Illinois at Springfield, where I obtained a third degree, this time in psychology. After that, I attended Southern Illinois University School of Law. 

I have remained active and informed in our local politics. During my career as a police officer, I learned to read and understand Illinois laws and local ordinances. Many years of attending municipal meetings, observing, listening and learning have given me a firm understanding of the state and local laws that govern how our municipality must operate. 

I learned leadership and management in both my role as a police chief and in the military. I am fiscally conservative and believe we must follow the proper processes when spending taxpayer money. I see the main issues our small town faces being proper organization and planning. 

We currently have a lot of conflict and division in our local government. If elected, I would strive to bring all the elected officials and employees together. We do not have a proper set of ordinances, and what we do have remains locked up in the village vault, only available for viewing by making a specific FOIA request. Imagine a major sporting event, where both team, the referees, the fans get to see the rulebook. Such a situation would be chaotic. 

If elected I would push for codifying our ordinances. We could have a clear, concise, and easy to read binder available on the counter for anyone who walks into Village Hall. Codification would come with a digital copy, so our ordinances could also be easily placed online, too. No more having to make a FIOA (Freedom of Information Act) request to see what our local laws are. No more wondering what each elected official’s duties is. No more wondering how our local government is formed and under what rules it operates. 

South Jacksonville has been blessed with solid growth. Even in years where our larger neighbor to the north lost population, South Jacksonville still grew. Yet we do not want uncontrolled growth. We much have a solid urban plan, including a plan for roads, zoning and future drainage. Maintenance is also a large issue. We could save money by placing large ticket items on a replacement schedule. This would allow us to spend less on maintained, as well as trade off or sell used items while they still have some value left in them. This also gives us a plan, so we know when big ticket purchases will take place. No more running things until they are on their last leg, then having a debate for months or even years on when to replace something (something we recently saw with a new fire truck, as well as the new village computer systems). 

We need to remain fiscally conservative, while maintaining what we have. There are hoops to jump through when spending taxpayer’s money. The process is there for a reason. Spending your money should not be an easy process. It can be done efficiently, through proper communication between the board of trustees and the village president, but the steps in the process cannot be skipped. We must be thorough and diligent in our efforts of transparency. 

With your support we can make the much needed changes so our village continues forward with the progress you deserve. 

Thank you for your time!

Sincerely, 

Harry Jennings
217-248-5714

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