Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

October 24, 2012

Newcomers vie for Effingham County circuit clerk

Bill Grimes
Effingham Daily News

EFFINGHAM — The race for Effingham county circuit Clerk turned into a race for an open office after Deputy Clerk Pam Mathy defeated Becky Jansen in the March primary.

    Not wanting to give Mathy a free ride into office, local Republicans nominated former Stevens Industries employee John Niemerg after the primary.

    Mathy lives in Effingham, while Niemerg lives in the Bishop Creek community between Effingham and Dieterich.

    Neither candidate has held a political office.   

Pam Mathy

Pam Mathy said her experience in the Effingham County Circuit Clerk’s makes her the best candidate for the office.

    “I have six-plus years experience in the office,” Mathy said. “I will be ready from day one.”

    Mathy, 53, is squaring off against high school classmate John Niemerg (Teutopolis Class of 1977) in the Nov. 6 general election. She earned the Democratic nomination by defeating two-term incumbent Becky Jansen in the March primary.

    Mathy ran in the primary by charging that Jansen spent too much time out of the office at out-of-town meetings. One of her goals is to practice what she preached.

    “I want to be a hands-on manager,” she said. “I want to be there to help my fellow workers.”

    Mathy said she would curtail out-of-town trips and cut other unnecessary expenses. She said she would also foster better working relationships with other office holders and the County Board.

    “I know what needs to be done in the office,” she said. “Also, I am a people person who can deal both with the public and other office holders.”

    Mathy said she has worked in every division of the clerk’s office, from traffic, criminal, civil, probate and in the courtroom.

    “You name it, I’ve done it,” she said.

    Mathy said one key issue is how to maintain the latest technology to best serve the public. One thing she would do is put the brakes on any new technological purchases until uses are found for the unused devices already in the office.

    “We’ve got scanners sitting on our desks that have never been used,” she said. “Let’s use the technology we have instead of buying more things we won’t use.”

    Before taking a job in the clerk’s office, Mathy spent seven years at Patterson Technology Center in Effingham before her division was eliminated.

    She is a member of St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church and Catholic Daughters of the Americas.

    Mathy and husband Mike have four children and live in Effingham.

John Niemerg

Former longtime Stevens Industries employee John Niemerg said his private sector managerial experience makes him the best candidate for Effingham County circuit clerk.

    Niemerg, 53, is the Republican candidate for circuit clerk. Ironically, Democratic opponent Pam (Funneman) Mathy is a classmate from the Teutopolis High School Class of 1977. County Republicans asked him to seek the position after the primary election earlier this year.

    “Twenty-five years in the private sector has prepared me to be circuit clerk,” Niemerg said. “In the private sector, we get things done and done right.

    “Being for-profit means you have to watch your expenses and how you treat your employees.”

    Niemerg said the most important issue facing the clerk’s office is repairing the damage done by a bitter Democratic primary fight between Mathy and two-term incumbent Becky Jansen. Mathy had been a deputy circuit clerk for six years before seeking her boss’ job.

    “There’s been a couple of factions at odds with each other,” he said. “I’ve got the right experience to solve that. You manage the process, not the person.”

    Niemerg said goals for the office include increasing office efficiency.

    “I want to see what other clerk’s offices are doing,” he said. “More efficiency leads to better employee morale and job satisfaction.”

    Niemerg said he also plans to cut costs in the office.

    “I want to create employee incentives for cost savings,” he said. “You cut costs the same way you do at home or in the private sector — by taking a no frills approach and spending only what is necessary.”

    Niemerg said his managerial experience sets him apart from Mathy.

    “Her experience has been focused on a certain task,” he said. “But managing an office is a lot different.”

    Niemerg said he would draw on his 25 years at Stevens, in which he moved up from machine operator to master trainer. He left Stevens in early 2011, but has since become a salesman at Goeckner Bros. Motors.

    In addition to graduating from THS in 1977, Niemerg has attended both Lake Land College and Eastern Illinois University. The single father of one also spent nine years in the Illinois Army National Guard.

    Niemerg is a member of St. Isidore’s Catholic Church in the Bishop Creek community between Effingham and Dieterich. Other memberships include the Effingham County Farm Bureau and Experimental Aircraft Association.

    Bill Grimes can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 132, or at bill.grimes@effinghamdailynews.com