There will be a changing of the guard in McLean County government on Tuesday as six of the county board's 20 elected members will be recognized in their final meeting.
Two chose not to seek re-election, four others were defeated at the ballot box.
None of those exiting has served longer than Paul Segobiano. He's represented Bloomington's west side in District 8 for 46 years.
He lost in the March Democratic primary to Shayna Watchinski, who won a three-way race in the general election earlier this month. He was first sworn in on the board Dec. 5, 1972.
Now at age 85, Segobiano said he plans to continue his work to help children from low-income families through the Great Plains Life Foundation, where he serves as development director.
“I’m simply going to turn the page in my book and go on to the next chapter of my life,” Segobiano said.
Segobiano recalled one of the county's biggest success stories in his time on the board has been improvements in mental health services, which is part of the county jail expansion.
“I think it’s quite an accomplishment that McLean County has been able to address this issue, and move forward on it,” Segobiano said. “I think we consider ourselves a leading county downstate in regards to that issue.”
County officials have scheduled a ribbon cutting for the jail expansion project after Tuesday's county board meeting.
Endorsing GOP Candidate
Segobiano made political waves when he endorsed Republican Cheryl Froelich in the general election against Watchinski and Libertian Steve Suess.
Watchinski defeated Segobiano with 70 percent of the vote in the March 20 primary.
“I thought that (Watchinski) did not know the district, did not understand the people and what she was saying out on the campaign trail certainly went against my grain of thoughts and my grain of actions,” Segobiano said.
He claimed Watchinki characterized the McLean County jail expansion as a “boondoggle.”
Watchinski distributed campaign literature which said she's concerned "McLean County is spending too much time and money adding jail beds—and not enough to keep those struggling with mental health or addiction out of jail and live."
Segobiano bristles at McLean County Democratic Party Chairman Erik Rankin referring to him as a traitor in an online post for endorsing the Republican in the general election.
“Name calling never justifies what someone actually has inside, what they have to offer. I think my record in this community substantiates that I have given more than I have received. I will hang my hat on that.”
His advice for the newcomers who will be joining the County Board next month: listen and learn.
“You are going to gain more knowledge by listening and going to the (county) administrator and asking questions before you make a statement you regret later on,” Segobiano said.
The newcomers will be sworn in Dec. 3.
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