Election profile, Effingham commissioner: Merv Gillenwater

Merv Gillenwater

As a lifelong public servant, Mayor Merv Gillenwater said he has been trying to learn how to slow down. Part of that solution is to step down from mayor and run for city commissioner.

“At this point, I don't want to fully retire, but I would like to spend more time with my grandsons,” said Gillenwater. “Being a mayor, if you do it right, is a very time-consuming job that takes a lot of energy.”

The 65-year-old retired Illinois State Police Officer worked as a trooper in a variety of capacities, including patrol commander, drug task force commander and criminal investigator. After retiring in 2002, he worked as a criminal justice instructor at Lake Land College and was a city commissioner prior to his stint as mayor in 2011.

“I have a good working relationship with our local legislators and business people,” said Gillenwater.

Gillenwater has many local ties as a member of the Centenary United Methodist Church, Command Officers Association and Fraternal Order of Police, and the Effingham American Legion, as well as being a volunteer for Special Olympics and Golden Circle Nutrition Program.

The husband of Patricia, father and grandfather plans on using his experience to help Effingham grow.

“We have been very aggressive when it comes to economic development,” said Gillenwater.

In addition to bringing new businesses into the area, he would like to see long-term planning for infrastructure in the city.

“We have talked about years down the road to get an interstate interchange down south by the Effingham Airport,” said Gillenwater. “I'd love to see that happen.”     

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