Township highway commisioner race crowded

Township highway commisioner race crowded

By Shellie Berg

By Shellie Berg

Staff Reporter

Editor’s note: Next week, The Rock River Times will present a story on the remaining four petitioners.

Eight people seeking the township’s top job have filed petitions for the Feb. 27 primary, along with alleged financial blunders in the office earlier this year.

Present Highway Commissioner Ron Swanson was indicted for allegedly stealing car parts and having township employees work for his landscaping business. He has denied the charges and has filed for the primary.

Monday was the deadline to file petitions for highway commissioner. Petitioners include Paul Feery (D); Ralph R. “Lefty” Jury (R); Donald “Donnie” Bergquist (R); and Pete MacKay (R). The remaining petitioners are Charles Jefferson (D); Phil Graceffa (R); Ken Blakely (R); and Swanson (R).

Feery has been employed by Rockford Blacktop for more than 30 years. He said his work throughout the years has encompassed every phase of construction. For the last 20 years, he’s served as foreman supervisor.

Feery said that if elected, he will focus on “neglected” areas of the township. “There are several areas of the township that have never been touched,” he contended. “A lot of the roadways, a lot of the general maintenance. I’ve heard a lot of complaints about signs.”

He said he realizes the budget’s limited, but thinks that if better communication among staff existed, problems could be solved.

He added that with all the controversy surrounding the office, he wants to bring about change. “Keep taxpayers’ interests at heart, not your own,” he asserted.

Bergquist worked for the commission from 1977 to 1980. He currently is employed by Accu-Pak and sells high-speed packaging machines.

He was employed by Rockford Township from 1977 to 1980 and managed the entire boundaries of the township roads. “I’ve got experience with the highway commission, not as a commissioner, but as a worker,” he said.

He also worked as public works supervisor Colorado, from 1980 to 1984. He said he possesses substantial supervisory management experience.

Bergquist also remarked that much of his background lies in dealing with budget constraints and management. He also noted he has worked on the bidding process. He said he would look forward to “giving citizens the biggest bang for their buck.”

A former employee of Rockford Blacktop, Jury filed because, he said, “I just felt that I was qualified. I’ve been approached by several Republicans who asked me to run. I worked for Rockford Blacktop for 40 years.”

He worked the last 11 years in the field and in management for 29 years, and he retired in 1994. “I have a lot of experience in purchasing and managing people,” he said. “And I have a lot of experience in roadwork.”

Besides yearning to utilize his skills, he said he wants re-establish positive interpersonal relations since the disclosure occurred.

“My intention is to go in there and restore the morale of the employees and set some policies and procedures to get the township running like a business,” Jury remarked.

MacKay serves on the county board for District Five and has run MacKay Sign Co. by himself for roughly 40 years. He said the business can continue if he’s elected commissioner.

MacKay, who points to his business knowledge as experience, is currently examining the township’s budget and wants to look at staffing patterns.

“I think one of the reasons I was approached is because I have a certain reputation for integrity,” he remarked. He said his position would include “being an absolute steward of the taxpayers’ money.”

MacKay also said he understands the township’s “charges of wrongdoing,” but said that Swanson’s innocent until proven guilty.

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