The race for the District G seat on the Effingham County Board features an unsuccessful candidate from four years ago who has been to nearly every board meeting since that time, against a man best known for his eponymous barbecue sauce.
Republican Ed Hoopingarner didn’t let a narrow loss in the 2008 GOP primary to board chairwoman Carolyn Willenburg deter him from seeking another try. But the Jackson Township resident faces a challenge from Democrat Doug McCain, a former hog farmer who spends most of his time nowadays marketing his barbecue sauce.
Willenburg chose not to run for re-election.
District G covers most of the southwest quadrant of the county, including the Mason and Edgewood areas.
Ever since his unsuccessful primary run four years ago for the District G seat on the Effingham County Board, Jackson Township resident Ed Hoopingarner has been a fixture at board and committee meetings.
Come Dec. 1, Hoopingarner, 62, wants to change seats. He wants to move from the audience to a seat at the board table. To do that, the Republican has to beat Democrat Doug McCain in the Nov. 6 general election. Incumbent Carolyn Willenburg has chosen to retire from the board after three terms.
District G covers most of the southwest quadrant of the county, including the Town of Mason and the Village of Edgewood.
Hoopingarner estimates that he has attended more than 400 board and committee meetings in the four years since his narrow primary defeat at the hands of Willenburg.
“I’ve also done a lot of research and looking up facts,” he said. “I’ve been an interested citizen.”
Hoopingarner said the biggest issue on the County Board continues to be transparency.
“I don’t believe they are as transparent as they could be,” he said. “Certain regulations are not being followed, and I want to make sure the board is in compliance.”
Hoopingarner said transparency is in the best interest of the public.
“The board is elected by the people,” he said. “If there’s something you feel needs to be a secret, maybe it shouldn’t be done.”
Hoopingarner said other issues this year are 911 consolidation and renovation of the old courthouse. He said the ad hoc committee of the county 911 board that recently began meeting is a step in the right direction.
“I think they are on the right track by studying the efficiency of the system,” he said.
Hoopingarner said conversion of the old courthouse into a museum is an important community project, as long as county taxpayers don’t have to fund it.
“I don’t think taxpayers should have to fund it, but I think the county board should support the effort of the museum people,” he said.
Hoopingarner said his goals for the upcoming term are a review of past policies and a willingness to make the board more proactive. He said one way to stimulate proactivity is by working with other government representatives.
“I’ve talked to our representatives in Springfield and Washington,” he said. “It’s important that we keep in touch with them to let them know our needs.”
Hoopingarner said contact with the state and national capitals is particularly important in economic development efforts because of the state and federal programs available.
“We need economic growth with jobs that can support a family,” he said. “By working with these representatives, we can do that.”
Hoopingarner said he is the best choice for District G because of his willingness to serve the community.
“I’ve been involved in the community since the early 1990s,” he said. “I feel like the people need a voice.”
The Bridgeport native graduated from the old Bridgeport High School before attending Lincoln Christian College. He eventually became an Illinois state trooper.
Hoopingarner has been on the Effingham Unit 40 Board of Education, and is currently a Jackson Township trustee, as well as a Republican precinct committeeman from Jackson County.
Hoopingarner and wife Mary have four grown children and eight grandchildren.