A lone incumbent will remain on the Effingham City Council following Tuesday’s election, according to unofficial results.
Merv Gillenwater, 69, retained his seat for commissioner for what will be his third term. Previously, he served as city commissioner, then mayor, then city commissioner again. He’s a retired Illinois State Police lieutenant.
Gillenwater drew 1,155 votes, or 14.11 percent and was the third highest vote-getter in the commissioners race.
Three others seeking re-election on the Effingham City Council will wrap up their duties at the May 7 meeting to allow new commissioners to take their seats.
Joining Gillenwater in the council chambers will be three newly elected candidates: Hank Stephens, who collected 1,263 votes, or 15.42 percent; Larry Micenheimer captured 1,180 votes, or 14.42 percent; Libby Moeller won 1,032 votes, or 12.61 percent.
Ousted were incumbents Don Althoff, who collected 954 votes, or 11.66 percent; Kevin Esker who got 788 votes, or 9.63 percent; and Kevin Willis, who tallied 909 votes, or 11.11 percent. Another challenger for a council seat, Jayne Miller, collected 903 votes, or 11.04 percent.
Following the polls closing on Tuesday, Gillenwater said he found it interesting that he’s the one who gets to stay on for another term. He also thanked the voters for electing him again.
“I’d like to think that the people who voted for me did so because they like the way I voted – and they like me, also,” said Gillenwater. “But, I also hope that they voted for the people they wanted, but not against the ones who didn’t win.”
Gillenwater said he and the mayor-elect Mike Schutzbach have worked together in the past.
“I was the mayor when he was the police chief,” said Gillenwater. “I am looking forward to working with him in this new capacity.”
City Commissioner-elect Libby Moeller, 40, works for the Juvenile Diversion Program, a part of the Effingham County Probation Department; and as the marketing coordinator for Austin Mansion and Walnut Street Weddings. She is currently on the Plan Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals in Effingham; a board member for the Fourth Judicial Circuit Juvenile Justice Council; among other involvements in the community.
Moeller said Tuesday night that she’s excited to take on this next role on City Council. She also thanked her husband, Scott, for his support and “covering all of the bases at home and with the kids – all the time.”
“I’m very excited,” said Moeller. “It’s awesome.”
She said she’s enjoyed her time on the Plan Commission and Zoning Commission.
“It was a perfect place to get my feet wet,” said Moeller. “I’ve learned a lot. I’m so thankful for the the citizens who voted for me, which allowed me to take this next step.”
Moeller said she is only the second female to be elected to the Effingham City Council.
“I look forward to doing my best on the city council on behalf of the city’s taxpayers,” said Moeller.
City Commissioner-elect Henry “Hank” Stephens, 66, of Effingham is a banker and works on business development and is part owner of several small business in Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky.
Stephens is no stranger to city matters, but it has been 40 years since he was first elected. He said he was surprised to be the top vote-getter in Tuesday’s election.
“It was 40 years ago, in 1979, I was the youngest person elected to Effingham council,” said Stephens. “I’m excited about the group I get to work with. I’m surprised the way it turned out.”
When he was first elected, he opted not to seek re-election, but was appointed City Attorney upon sudden death of the then-city attorney. He held that role for 19 years, and also worked in economic development. In all, he’s served 30 years with the city.
“I had a lot of good people out there working for me, saying nice things,” said Stephens. “I had a lot of good people who I have a lot of respect for, who encouraged me to run.”
Larry Micenheimer, 67, of Effingham has served as Effingham City Commissioner 2007-2011. He is a retired counselor at Effingham High School and currently a Unit 40 bus driver and works for Koerner Distributor.
Dawn Schabbing can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 217-347-7151, ext 138