Two familiar faces and a newcomer are vying for two trustee positions for the Lake Land Community College District 517 in Tuesday's election. Those elected will serve a six-year term.
Incumbent Meg Yargus Steward, 35, is a Marshall native. She earned a bachelor of science marketing degree from Butler Univeristy, and she is married to husband Josh. Yargus Steward works as the National Account Director at AGI Yargus, a grain and feed manufacturer and fertilizer handling, storage and conditioning equipment company.
Yargus Steward has served on the the Lake Land Foundation Board and was president in 2017. She is a member of St. Mary's Catholic Church and in the past has served as a mentor with the Marshall Area Youth Network and was a member of the Marshall Main Street Board. Yargus Steward is currently an Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association Board member.
Dave Storm, 64, is also an incumbent for the board of trustees. Storm currently resides in Effingham with his wife Debby. The couple has two sons Adam (wife Lindsey) and Derek (wife Andrea) and grandchildren Connor, Colin, Lila, Theo and Everett.
Storm earned an associates degree from Lake Land College, a bachelor of science business degree from Eastern Illinois University, a master of business administration degree from Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville and is a certified public accountant. He currently serves on the Carle Foundation Finance Committee and is retired after 38 years in hospital administration.
Candidate Kevin Curtis, 63, lives in Mattoon and is married to Joann, who is a registered nurse. The couple has two children: daughter Natalie, a student at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, and son Perry Curtis, a junior in high school.
Curtis attended Windsor High School and earned degrees from Lake Land Community College and Eastern Illinois University in industrial technology. Curtis continued to take graduate classes at both EIU and the University of Illinois following the completeion of his degree in 1976.
Curtis is a retired teacher and currently farms near Windsor. He taught industrial technology classes for 35 years at Shelbyville and Mattoon High Schools and retired from Mattoon Community District 2 in 2010. While employed with the two high schools, Curtis served on multiple educational committees and is currently a member of the Coles County Retired Teachers Association and Mattoon High School Future Farmers of America Alumni Association.
The three candidates recently answered questions submitted by the Effingham Daily News.
Is there any reason that motivated you to run for office?
Yargus Steward: I am running so I may apply my time and skills to ensure Lake Land College continues to be a valuable resource in our communities. Lake Land provides students with an economical education or trade degree, expanding career opportunities and widening the students' professional network. I want to sit on the board to ensure the curriculum continues to evolve to meet the needs of our students and the job market.
Storm: After hearing a presentation on Lake Land College by late President Scott Lensink several years ago and hearing all the great things the college was doing in educational programs, solar and geo-thermal utility management and affordable costs, I wanted to be a part of that success story.
Curtis: Several years ago, I was involved in helping Mattoon High School reestablish the FFA program after this was eliminated in the 1990s. Being involved in this process and seeing my children an dother youth in the Mattoon community take part in Mattoon High School's renewed FFA program gave me a sense of pride in how important vocational education programs can be in helping students learn skills that are not often taught at home or in the traditional classroom. I feel Lake Land College is a valuable asset to our community in offering affordable vocational and educational programs for individuals seeking to further their education.
What do you feel qualifies you for the position?
Yargus Steward: My experience with strategic planning in the corporate world, along with my years serving on community and agriculture boards, qualifies me for the position. I joined my family's local manufacturing business in 2009 and have been actively engaged in the management, budget planning and operations since then. My experience in formulating organizational goals, writing plans to achieve those and then executing those plans will translate well to the oversight responsibilities of a Lake Land College Board of Trustee.
Storm: My 40 years in financial management.
Curtis: My years of experience in teaching and interacting with administrators in the educational field. I have attended several LLC board meetings over the past several months and have attended some LLC events to get a first-hand look as to its current issues and vibe with the community.
What sets you apart from your opponents?
Yargus Steward: My life experiences set me apart from my opponents. Since graduating from Butler University in 2006, I have had the opportunity to live in large cities and my hometown. I have worked for a large corporation and then returned to my family's small-town agriculture business. For the past 10 years, I have been based in Marshall, have traveled all over the U.S. serving our customers, have traveled abroad for international trade shows and have served on industry boards that steer the direction of the fertilizer industry. These experiences have enriched my understanding of how communities and economies function. I have learned that the educational opportunities are the foundation of both.
Storm: My six years' experience as a current College Board Trustee.
Curtis: With my years in the educational field, I think I have a great deal of insight in where education is headed and would welcome the opportunity to use my ideas to help Lake Land College grow. As a farmer, I see, too, that we need to make sure Lake Land College remains affordable for not only the students but the community.
What are the most important issues specific to your race?
Yargus Steward: A key issue facing universities is the financial uncertainty of operating a public college in the state of Illinois. The college has effectively adjusted to the financial strain, and I believe candidates must come to the table ready to continue the hard work of keeping our programs running in spite of our budgetary issues.
Storm: Illinois budget/funding uncertainty, student out-migration to other states, meeting the district's need for educated and trained workers.
Curtis: Increase the enrollment at Lake Land College and keep cost affordable for students.
What are some things you hope to get accomplished if elected?
Yargus Steward: As I shared above, the financial uncertainty challenging public colleges will require the board and staff to wrok together to ensure Lake Land College thrives in the future. We have successfully done this and look forward to the opportunity to continue to do so by serving another tearm on the Lake Land College Board of Trustees.
Storm: Working with the college administration to implement the strategic key areas of guided pathways and data analytics.
Curtis: To continue to keep the current administration in place as I feel they are doing an excellent jon and support them in their vision to grow Lake Land College to the next level.