Three candidates up for City Council positions

Liz Stephens, City Reporter

Three candidates will be competing for two seats on Charleston’s City Council Tuesday as elections take place.

The three men up for city council member are Dennis Malak, Jim Dunn and Matthew Hutti.

Malak has not held an elected office before, he said previously running for these positions has given him knowledge of what it might entail.

He said his passion for the community would help him with as a member of the city council.

Malak has two small children he plans on raising in Charleston, and he said he wants to give them the best community to grow up in.

“(Charleston is) a wonderful community with a lot to offer, and I want to see that continue,” he said.

Malak said he would like to see more higher-paying, long-term jobs that community members could sustain and raise a family with.

“If we want this community to grow and thrive, those are the kinds of jobs we need,” he said.

Malak added that Charleston is a community that could have more industry to provide people with these jobs, because it is a prime area surrounded by cities such as Chicago and Indianapolis,IN.

The second candidate, Hutti, was born and raised in Charleston and has been on city council for four years.

He had previously run three times and was elected his fourth time running in 2013.

Hutti said one of his goals is to keep a balanced budget in the city of Charleston.

“Four years ago at our retreat, we talked about the Wastewater treatment to add an ultraviolet disinfection system and it had to be done by 2017,” he said.

Hutti said he and the other city council members have mainly figured out how to pay for this treatment without using any funds from the state over the last four years at their retreat.

“In 2016, in partnership with the city of Mattoon, the city of Charleston was awarded grant funds in the amount for $800,000 for the improvements related to the Lincoln Prairie Grass Trail located between Charleston and Mattoon,” he said.

Hutti said his goal for Eastern is to be accepting to students and parents.

He said he wants students to feel at home for the nine months they are in the city so they have the best college experience.

As councilman, Hutti said, he wants to attract businesses that cater to the students.

“My goal as city councilman would be to keep up the momentum going for the city of Charleston,” Hutti said.

Dunn, the third candidate, is a graduate of Mattoon High School with 18 years of experience serving on the council.

He said his biggest goal is to stay in budget and to keep the city’s credit rating up.

“A really high priority is to make things as inviting as we can for the university to grow back to the 12,000 students we used to have,” he said.

He said recruiting, especially in local schools, is important for Eastern.

“I think we can bounce back,” he said.

Dunn said Eastern President David Glassman is on the right path with getting enrollment up, but he thinks it will be a slower process because of the state budget impasse.

“I think it’s crucial for our city to have the kids here, and it’s crucial for the kids to have an education,” he said.

Another goal Dunn has is to push a little harder on re-doing the streets on Lincoln Avenue, which he said are rough and bumpy.

“Our state government has really hurt not only our community, but has hurt a lot of other communities because of their inability to keep their spending and money-outgo in line and I think it’s really important,” Dunn said.

Dunn said Charleston needs to pay attention to how it spends its money and make sure the city is not spending more than it has to spend.

“That’s probably the main reason I’d like to stay around in government, because I want to make sure we have that,” he said. “It’s made a lot of difference in our city not being in debt and having good credit ratings.”


Liz Stephens can be contacted at 581-2812 or [email protected].