Get to know local candidates

Luke Taylor, Editor-in-Chief

The News contacted candidates with a list of questions to learn about them and their stances on various issues. The same questions were sent to al candidates listed on the Coles County 2022 General Election specimen ballot for the county, county board, judicial, and appellate and circuit court judge races. These are summaries of the responses we received. 

Headshot of Andrew Shick (Andrew Shick)

Andrew Shick (Candidate for County Board District #3)

I worked at the CCSD as a deputy, then transferred to the Coles Cumberland Court Services Department.

My goals if elected are to find a way to keep our departments funded with the lost revenue from the bail reform act.

I would like to implement county ordinance that would allow money from violations such as speeding to stay here in Coles County.

Secondly, I want to pass a reasonable ordinance for renewable energy. I’m a firm believer that the government should not be able to tell farmers or any landowners what to do with their property as long as it doesn’t negatively affect other people.

I believe in the rule of law and I am a family man.

I understand the importance of the university to our community and will make sure the student’s voices are heard as well as the full-time residents. After all, I too was a student at EIU. I would be proud to earn the vote of any of my alma maters students.

I believe education should be more affordable for everyone. I support using tax dollars on the American people. I’d much rather see my tax dollars pay off student loans than being sent overseas.

The ruling was correct in overturning Roe vs Wade. The Federal government doesn’t have the authority to tell people what they can and can’t do with medical decisions.

I do not support taking guns from law-abiding citizens. As far as background checks go, I support that. I just don’t trust our federal government to pass any kind of common-sense laws right now.

There are going to be dangerous people released on the streets because of [the bail reform act] and innocent people are going to be put in harm’s way. This law is going to do way more harm than good. 

Michael Watts (Michael Watts Campaign)

Michael Watts (Candidate for County Board District #3)

My goals are the same as from when I was appointed to the Coles County Board: to work with the other members of the board to make Coles County the best place possible to live, work, raise a family, get an education, and to do this by being as fiscally responsible and fair-minded as possible.

I am fiscally conservative and socially liberal: do the greatest good for as many people as possible with the sources available, but don’t overlook those with special needs or circumstances. I’m running because I’ve found the work to be rewarding. 

I grew up as a “towny” in a college town. I understand the dynamics of “town-gown” and ways to bridge the two.

As one of two Democrats on a board, I think I help make the CCB a more accurate reflection of the broader county community.

I’m against all predatory loans, which I think apply to some student loans.

I believe in a woman’s right to choose, to have control over her own body. I also think we need to do more to promote birth control, especially among males, to minimize the need for abortions to be performed.

I remember a time when law enforcement was in favor of gun control so the police would not be out-gunned by the criminals–what was wrong with that logic?   

Students might be interested in the revised wind farm ordinance the county board recently passed. I believe it promotes energy independence as a renewable green energy source and provides new economic opportunities for the county. 

Gail Mason

Gail Mason (Candidate for County Board District #12)

I served eight years on School Board; I was president for two years. I was elected to the Coles County Board almost two years ago.

My first goal is to finish distributing the almost $10 million dollars the federal government allocated to Coles County. We reviewed over 60 applications from Courthouse departments and Coles County agencies.

My second goal is to work toward Board transparency and effectiveness by actively participating during the monthly Board Meetings and multiple subcommittee meetings.

It is easier and healthier for us to share information and work together rather than being forced to read between the lines to find the truth. I recognize there are diverse yet valid perspectives and different ways to get things done. I believe in facts, research, following a process, and working for the best interests of the citizens of Coles County.

I think I’m the best candidate from a student’s perspective.

I am in favor of some loan forgiveness because it might help over 20 million Americans.

I have been pro-choice since I was a teenager.

The 2nd Amendment guaranteed the right of individuals to defend their liberties by participating in a STATE MILITIA. Individuals do NOT need high capacity weapons.

People should be talking about BALANCE. There are only two Democrats on a 12-person Board. There are four Democrats running for office. 

Nancy Purdy (Candidate for County Board District #7)

Two goals would be to promote the County for future growth, while continuing to be fiscally responsible to our taxpayers.

I value honesty and integrity.

As an EIU graduate with a degree in history, journalism, and French, I have always been interested in governments and how our Constitution sets us apart from all others by placing the power in the hands of the people. American Government is among the subjects I teach, so I decided to take responsibility to serve an active role in local grassroots government.

Over the years, I have seen an erosion and reinterpretation of the guarantees of the U.S. Constitution. Young people today do not have the same freedoms and security that I enjoyed at their age. I will continue to stand for what makes this country great so that young people can enjoy a responsible, prosperous life.

The timing of the student loan forgiveness seems more like a political ploy than an altruistic program.

I have always been pro-life. A nation that calls the killing of its own children a “right” has lost its moral compass.

Knowing why our founding fathers considered the right of the citizenry to bear arms important enough to make it the second amendment leads me to stand with them on this matter. We need to deal with the causes of violent behavior.

People should be talking about how to get politicians to serve “We the people” instead of working to gain power for themselves and their political party. 

Kent Martin (Kent Martin For Sheriff Campaign)

Kent Martin (Candidate for Sheriff)

I will meet with every employee individually within 90 days of taking office, and I will begin a dialogue with local school administrators to explore ways to make our schools safer.

I value honesty and integrity and will not tolerate dishonest or unethical behavior.

I am running for office so I can continue to serve the citizens of Coles County.

I am a 28-year veteran of law enforcement and I want to continue working to ensure the safety of my friends and neighbors. As sheriff I will work with all local law enforcement agencies, including UPD, to provide a safe environment in which EIU students can live, work, and study.

Government should not forgive student loans. Those loans are not actually forgiven, they become the responsibility of every taxpayer.

I am pro-life with very limited exceptions.

We do not need more gun laws, we need to enforce the laws we currently have and punish offenders, not the law abiding gun owner.

The most important thing to discuss right now is how to bring civility back to our government so we can work together to find solutions to problems instead of pointing fingers and placing blame.  

Headshot of Matt Titus (Matt Titus)

Matt Titus (Candidate for County Board District #11)

I’ve served four years (2017-2021) on the Charleston CUSD #1 School Board. I was campaign chairman for a nonpartisan ballot initiative for school facilities in Coles County.

There are a number of projects underway for the long-term economic health of Coles County. We can do big things in Coles County – when we work together. No more of this Mattoon vs. Charleston or Charleston vs. EIU nonsense.

I’m a townie, and I know it is past time to abandon these old rivalries. Family, integrity, and work ethic is how we’re raised around here.

I had so many great teachers who became personal role models and heroes for me.

Politics is how I enter the world. We’re at a generational inflection point. Are we going to grow and remain the regional leader we’ve always been, or are we going to stagnate and dry up like so many other small towns?

One thing I love about Mattoon-Charleston is that there are so many ways to be helpful. Organizations need volunteers. Shops need customers. Democracy needs standard bearers.

It makes me sad that Coles County hasn’t been able to keep its best young talent here. Whatever adversarial or confrontational attitude existed between the city and the university in the past, now is the time to abandon it and work together.

The Mattoon Sports Complex is going to be a major economic driver for all of Coles County. There will soon be new wind and solar farms here in Coles County that could support more local expansion in the green energy/high-tech industries.