NORMAL — Win or lose, Normal Township supervisor candidate Sarah Grammer is glad to shine a light on an often-overlooked unit of local government.
“By getting in the race and making it competitive, we’re informing a lot of people about the township,” she said. “There’s been a lot of work to do.”
Normal Township, which is separate from the town of Normal, oversees the senior Activity and Recreation Center, a Township Assistance Program (TAP) and rural street repairs, among other functions.
Grammer, a Democrat and Normal Public Library board member, and Cheryl Gaines, a Republican and 24-year Normal City Council member, are vying to replace retiring Township Supervisor Rich Farr in the April 4 election.
Gaines, a 62-year-old licensed counselor and CEO of Collaborative Services who lives at 8 Payne Place, said she hopes to expand TAP to help township residents who get food or housing aid to get social services as well.
“The township needs to be part of the conversation in the community and town of Normal in how do we get more affordable senior housing for people who live in Normal so they can age more in place,” she said. “The town of Normal and township can do a lot of collaboration — I think I would be a great conduit for that — as well as with other governmental entities.”
Gaines hopes also to offer TAP recipients the chance to take Heartland Community College classes.
Grammer, a 36-year-old business analyst who lives at 1010 Show Creek Lane, said she wants to make TAP more efficient, either by expanding what the township offers or by reaching an agreement with City of Bloomington Township to provide services. Normal Township would still provide funding.
Grammer also wants to make the township government more accountable to taxpayers, including increasing transparency and decreasing officials' pay.
She hopes to move township board meetings from 8:15 a.m. on Tuesdays so more people can participate.
She hopes also to decrease pay for members of the board, who receive $5,000 a year to attend monthly meetings — City Council members receive $4,800 — and the supervisor, who receives $85,000 per year.
“That $20,000 (in trustee salaries) could be a part-timer at the ARC helping out at the busy front desk,” she said.
Gaines said her experience will help her in the budgeting process and to secure additional grants for the ARC.
Eleven candidates running for trustee: Republican incumbents Richard Phillips, Ray Ropp, Randy Schaab and Melvin Schultz; Democrats Joe Gorski, Arlene Hosea, Samantha Quigle and Sally Pyne; and Libertarians Christopher McDermott, Alex Nigro and Steve Suess.
Also on the ballot are Republican Clerk Amy Conklin and Democratic challenger Jodie Slothower. Republican Assessor Rob Cranston and Highway Commissioner Arin Rader are unopposed.