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SIU student trustee seat in limbo

Geoffrey Ritter
Carbondale Times

CARBONDALE — SIU’s fall semester will begin with a special election for student representative to the Board of Trustees after an “internal error” apparently invalidated election results from the spring.

Katie Sermersheim, interim dean of students on SIU’s Carbondale campus, said Tuesday a mistake by a staff member resulted in questions about the outcome of last April’s election, and further consultation with legal counsel this summer led to the conclusion that a new election should take place.

Sermersheim declined to go into detail about the mistake, saying only that it dealt with the “processing of requirements” for the position. She said the new election will take place after the start of the fall semester and that the goal is to have a duly elected student trustee by the Sept. 11 meeting of the Board of Trustees.

“It may be a lofty goal,” Sermersheim said.

In the April student election, Adrian Miller of Carbondale beat out Kane Hudson of Peoria to claim the position on the university’s governing body. Miller said this week that he plans to run again in the special election, although he is disappointed that he will not be participating in this week’s BOT meeting.

“While I am disappointed I will not be able to attend the upcoming board meeting, I stand by the decision to hold a special election,” Miller said in a statement provided to the Times. “The internal errors made were easy to make and I’m certain the campus will ensure a special election that gives all candidates a fair shot to run for a truly important position on our campus. I look forward to the fall semester and look forward to asking the SIU students for their vote.”

The Times sent a request for comment Tuesday to Hudson’s SIU email address but did not receive a response by press time.

Sermersheim said her office remains in preliminary discussions about how to schedule the election so that all interested candidates have the opportunity to run and campaign.

City reins in downtown master plan movement

Geoffrey Ritter
Weekend Times

CARBONDALE — City leaders are putting the brakes on hiring a consultant to help develop a master plan for the downtown area until more public input can be included in the process.

At their meeting this week, members of the City Council informally agreed to hold off on selecting a consultant to help with instituting such a plan until members of the public, including an advisory panel selected in early June, have a chance to weigh in on the matter.

That advisory panel has yet to formally meet. The city issued a request for proposals from consultants in May and has received multiple responses.

“We want this to be a very open public process,” Mayor Don Monty said Tuesday. “We don’t want this to be a situation where somebody comes from outside the community and essentially brings their preconceived notions of what are the proper ways to develop a community.”

Councilwoman Jane Adams said she wasn’t confident any of the proposals received address the city’s real goals downtown, adding that the city should back up and make sure the process is done properly.

“I think we sort of need to back up and pull the cart back into the barn and get the horse out of the stable and hook it up and move forward,” Adams said. “Right now the cart is just barreling down the road, and the horse is still standing with its harness on — the horse being the advisory committee and the cart being the consultants and what they’re going to do.”

City Manager Kevin Baity said he would take the concerns back to the city’s staff and formulate a strategy for engaging the advisory panel more thoroughly in the process. Baity said he will report back to the Council on the matter at one of August’s meetings.

The city is looking to develop a long-term plan for further development of the downtown district. Right now, a multi-story housing and retail project is under construction at the site of the former 710 Bookstore — a development that on its own will dramatically alter the appearance of the city’s downtown area.

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