Effingham Daily News
The Effingham County Board chairman told a group of businesspeople Friday that board members check their party affiliations at the boardroom door once they are elected.
"I never hear the terms Democrat or Republican," said Jim Niemann at the monthly First Friday luncheon sponsored by the Effingham County Chamber of Commerce.
"I can't remember party ever coming up," Niemann said. "Everybody seems to be interested in the public interest."
The current County Board has a 7-2 split in favor of Republicans, but Niemann said nobody on the board really thinks about that. Instead, he said, he focuses on getting the county's business done with what he said is a "remarkable group of people."
"We've got nine people on the board from all walks of life," Niemann said. "We all come together to give us a government with a very wide life experience."
Niemann said the board's top priority continues to be bringing jobs to Effingham County.
"Right now, everybody's struggling," he said. "But we need to work within our means to let you get on with your lives."
Niemann said the board's economic development and grant procurement committees are working hard to move the county's economic engines. He added, however, he still believes the best government is a limited government.
"Government has been a passion of mine since I was in college," said the Eastern Illinois University graduate and retired police officer. "I've come to the conclusion, though, that government's job is to get out of everyone's way.
"Prosperity doesn't come from government," he added. "It comes from you - the people who take risks to bring jobs into our community."
Niemann said Americans should treasure their political system based on the rule of law, rather than man.
"In this place, you can do anything you want as long as there's not a law against it," he said. "Other places, you can't do something unless there's a law allowing you to do it."
After the luncheon, Niemann said life on the board has changed now that he is the new chairman.
"My personal relationships have remained the same, but I set the agenda," he said. "Things have changed for me just by nature of being the chairman."
Niemann, a Republican who lives in Effingham, was first elected to the board in 2010 - and won re-election last fall. He represents District B, including most of the north side of Effingham.
Bill Grimes can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 132, or at firstname.lastname@example.org