By Bob Balgemann


Primary elections will be held Tuesday (Feb. 23) in the City of Belvidere and in Belvidere Township.

In the township, there are five candidates for four spots on the board of trustees. They are incumbents Jim Culvey, Kathy L. Grover, Richard H. Nelson and Robert E. Turner. There is one challenger, former Boone County Board member Bernard O’Malley. Voters will select four of those five for four-year terms.

Four spots are available in the City of Belvidere. Information on two of them, mayor and Ward 3 alderman, appeared in the Feb. 11 Belvidere Republican. The remaining two are city clerk and Ward 2 alderman, and are scheduled to appear in today’s issue.

The current city clerk is Sarah Turnipseed. She was appointed Jan. 6, 2020, to replace longtime clerk Shauna Arco, who retired. She is being challenged by Joanne “Josie” Riley.

Sarah Turnipseed

Turnipseed was asked two questions for this story: (1) What prompted you to seek a full, four-year term as clerk? and (2) Why should voters select you? Here are her responses:

(1) “First and foremost, I love my job. Every day presents unique challenges and situations. I began working for the city 10 years ago and I have worked hard to get where I am today. When the city clerk retired a year ago, on her recommendation along with the mayor and 100 percent support from the city council, there was no question as to who should be appointed clerk.

Over the last year, I have accumulated a great deal of knowledge and experience, as well as earned the trust of city employees to continue serving the citizens, businesses, and employees that greatly depend on the clerk’s office.” 

(2) “I have had the opportunity to work with the previous clerk for the city and one thing that stands out is the foundation of the office. That foundation has been built on consistency and teamwork within the city clerk’s office. Without my knowledge of the inner workings of the city and the trust that has been placed in me, it would be the taxpayers and employees who would suffer the greatest. The deputy clerk is retiring this year and taking 20 years of experience with her. Electing an unproven Belvidere city clerk would result in months of training and hiring additional staff and outside firms in order to step in and fulfill the obligations required by the clerk’s office.

“The clerk’s office needs continuity now more than ever. In my first year of office, I have met many difficult challenges head on, including a cyber attack and a pandemic, and have effectively demonstrated by commitment, professionalism, and passion through it all. My leadership has helped maintain a positive work environment, benefitting both our citizens and employees. The job of Belvidere City Clerk is a full-time commitment, and I am the full-time candidate.”

Joanne Riley

Here are challenger Riley’s responses to her two questions, (1) What prompted you to run for city clerk? and (2) Why should voters select you? Here are her responses:

(1) “In November 2009, I was asked by the former Belvidere mayor, Fred Brereton, if I would be interested in serving as the treasurer for the city of Belvidere. I accepted the position and served as treasurer from December 2009 until April 2013. During that time, I became familiar with the inner workings of City Hall. I made bank deposits, bank transfers, and worked closely with the finance director, Pat Chamberlin. I attended city council meetings and found the job of city clerk to be very interesting and challenging.

“With my previous job experience and associate’s degree in legal secretary, I decided to run in the 2013 election. This was my first attempt running against the incumbent and I lost. Still interested in the position and having gained two years experience as the village clerk in Union, Ill., I ran again in the 2017 election. I worked hard on my campaign and did very well in this election, but came up less than 300 votes shy of winning. The incumbent completed three years of her four-year term and I will now run against the 2020 appointed city clerk, with my additional four years of clerk experience and newly nominated position, Boone County Republican Club secretary.

“Every new job is a learning curve and there are many resources available: Belvidere mayor, city attorney, surrounding clerks, and the Northern Illinois Municipal Clerk’s Association, to name a few.

“I am ready, now more than ever, to take on the day-to-day duties of Belvidere city clerk. I am a team builder with strong communication skills and a well-organized multitasker ready for the challenges ahead.

“I am proud to be a citizen of the city of Belvidere and I would be honored to be your next Belvidere city clerk.”

(2) “Voters should select me because of my determination! I first ran for city clerk in 2013 against the incumbent, knowing I would not do well. I did not know the citizens of Belvidere and it was my first time campaigning. In 2017, I ran against the incumbent again, and lost that election by less than 300 votes. I am running again, the previous city clerk completed three years of her four-year term and I am now running against the appointed city clerk. I am determined, campaigning hard and going door to door meeting and greeting the citizens of Belvidere.

“I have experience. I was appointed village clerk in Union in 2015. My duties include, but are not limited to:

“Record and distribute the minutes of council meetings; prepare meeting agendas; video gaming licenses; liquor licenses; ordinances and resolutions; record data and ensure documents are stored, filed and maintained correctly; prepare and maintain official reports, legal documents, finance records and reference material; coordinate municipal elections; distribute public correspondence, and ensure that municipal records are accessible to the public; water bills; accounts payable; FOIA requests; audit preparation; and accounts receivable.

“Campaigning has been difficult, following a Presidential election, COVID-19, weather, and being the candidate. Through all three elections, I have developed thick skin, you don’t get support from the city employees or their friends and family, they don’t want to get to know me, which is unfortunate. City clerk is an elected position and any citizen resident has the choice to run and my determination will keep me motivated!”

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