4 candidates interview to replace McIntyre on McLean County Board
Four candidates were interviewed Monday to fill the vacant District 5 seat on the McLean County Board.
Republicans David Blumenshine, Chad Berck, Cathy Woods and Randall Knapp have thrown their hats in the ring. Each was given five minutes to speak about themselves and their qualifications, followed by questions from board members.
One of them will fill the seat left vacant after the recent resignation of chair John McIntyre,who cited health reasons for his departure. About a week later, the board elected fellow Republican and longtime board member Catherine Metsker as its new chair.
Metsker will nominate one of the applicants for a vote of the full county board that meets Thursday at the McLean County Museum of History. The board is required to appoint someone from the same party as McIntyre.
The first to speak Monday at the Government Center was David Blumenshine, a radio broadcaster and real estate broker who previously ran twice for state representative and also for a seat on the Normal Town Council. He lost all three races.
That raised some questions from the board, but Blumenshine responded by saying each race was a learning experience.
"When someone fails in life, I believe that's a good indicator that someone is willing to move forward," said Blumenshine.
Blumenshine also cited running against Dan Brady in the state representative race as a reason behind his losses. He said losing to a longtime incumbent isn't necessarily a reflection of himself and his campaign.
"I ran against what I consider a retail politician, one of the best. No one does it better than Dan Brady," said Blumenshine. "That was an uphill climb...as a grassroots candidate, not very well funded, I think I did pretty well."
Regarding what he would like to address most as a board member, Blumenshine said mental health is his biggest issue. In addition, he said he's concerned the housing crisis is being overblown — and that he doesn't want too much money to be spent on "a need that that I don't necessarily believe is there."
Blumenshine also was questioned about whether he plans on staying in Illinois in the near future, let alone McLean County. Word had circulated that he may be leaving. Blumenshine said he and his wife "don't know where we want to go."
Next to speak was Chad Berck, a veteran, coach, business owner and volunteer. Berck also cited mental health as a top priority, calling it a passion of his. Berck also said he wants to help with the McLean County Nursing Home.
Berck noted his relationship with McIntyre, calling the former chair a "common sense, compassionate person," adding that's something he wants to emulate if he is chosen to serve on the board.
"If I could share that with one person, that's what I want to be," said Berck.
Berck was asked about a May 2022 arrest in Normal. He said the incident involved someone stalking his family, leading to a physical conflict between Berck and the individual, and his eventual arrest. Charges were later dropped.
When asked about working across the aisle with Democrats on the board, which currently is a 10-10 split, Berck said he is open-minded and that "there are no bad ideas, period."
He described himself as an individual with common sense, who listens to any ideas brought to him.
Cathy Woods cited her financial experience — she's a certified public accountant. She also is the director of finance at Nexus Family Healing, chair of McLean County United Way and serves on the Miller Park Zoological Society and Illinois Art Station board.
Woods said her experience in finance and volunteer work make her the best candidate for the vacant board seat. She also raised her ability to work with Democrats as a plus.
"I think that any time you're looking at issues that affect the people of McLean County, it should be a collaborative effort and vote," said Woods. "I think on any of the votes, it's important to listen to all sides and find out what are the reasons for the positions they take. At least, it starts with a conversation."
One concern raised by the board was that Woods' financial work has been primarily in the private sector. Seeking a public seat, a question was asked about whether she's ready for the challenges that brings. Woods said watching Normal Town Council meetings has helped prepare her.
"The experience I have is sitting and watching that, and watching how when people don't collaborate, how much doesn't get done and how harmful it can be to a community," she said.
The final candidate interviewed was Randall Knapp, who works in sales for Old Dominion Freight Line in Decatur. Knapp also cited his financial experience in the private sector, in the logistics industry, and does volunteer work. He has been awarded in his profession for his work in cost savings.
Like Blumenshine and Berck, Knapp lists mental health as a top priority if he is chosen to join the board.
Some committees of interest for Knapp include transportation, land use and property committees, he said.
Knapp was asked about his biggest qualifications for serving on the board.
"I think it's serving the community as a whole, and then representing what the constituents are asking for. I know that's ambiguous, but I'm not knowledgeable about specific issues," said Knapp. "But I do have work ethic, and I have a lot of energy for this position and I would like to use it so I can become involved and work with each other to move forward."
Knapp said he hasn't had the chance to look over the 500-page budgetary document set to be discussed Thursday, but assured the board he will be prepared to do so if he fills the open seat.
WGLT correspondent Michele Steinbacher contributed to this report.