Two of the three Union County commissioners will seek re-election in 2012.

Two of the three Union County commissioners will seek re-election in 2012.

Charles Hall and Steve Stolte recently filed their nominating petitions to run in next year's Republican primary election.

Hall will run for re-election to his third term as county commissioner. Stolte will be on the ballot for his first election as county commissioner, having served 24 years as Union County engineer. Stolte was appointed last

January to fill the seat vacated by the resignation of Tom McCarthy.

"When I retired as county engineer, I didn't miss the engineering and I didn't miss the construction," Stolte said. "But what I really missed was involvement with people, involvement in the community, trying to make something happen, to make things better. I love working with people and I've been able to do that as a county commissioner."

Hall said he still has work to finish as a commissioner.

"I've always said I want to be around for the completion of the Raymond-Peoria sewer project, which we've been talking about in Union County since the 1990s," he said. "I'd very much like to see that project through to fruition."

Union County Engineer Jeff Stauch expects ground to be broken on the sanitary sewer project in the two unincorporated villages in August 2012 and the work to be completed in 18 months.

The commissioners cited four areas they expect to focus on in the coming years

• Continued proactive fiscal management of the county's finances. • Expanded collaboration among county officeholders and other units of government to make local government more effective and less costly. • Improved communication with county officeholders, other government entities and the citizens of Union County. • Continued customer service improvements in county offices, even in light of budget cuts.

Stolte said he's an old dog who has learned new tricks in his short tenure with the commission.

"After being an officeholder in Union County for 24 years, I thought I knew a little something," he said. "But I had no idea the breadth of responsibilities and issues that come up before county commissioners.

Both commissioners praised county officeholders for their work on the 2011 budget, a process made more difficult by the loss of state funding to counties.

"And we lose another chunk of state money next year," Hall said of the state's plan to phase in cuts over the next few years. "We had talked about trying to make all the cuts this year but thought it would be too drastic a measure to do it in one big sweep. We wanted to give our economy a chance to turn around, which would soften the blow."

Stolte said the commissioners are ready to make tough choices if the economy doesn't improve.
"It's so fragile and we have such a global economy now," he said. "Who would have thought 20 or 30 years ago that our economy would be affected by what's going on over in Greece? It's a truly world economy now."

Both Hall and Stolte said county governance was rewarding because it was neighbor-to-neighbor politics.

"I've always said when you're an elected official that you're on call 24/7," Stolte said. "You have to be prepared at all times to engage with people because you never know when someone is going to come up to you and ask for information or identify an issue you'll need to deal with. You've got to be willing to answer those questions, to give someone the time to express a concern."