Each of the four seats on the Waterloo City Council with terms expiring this spring have contested races on April 4.
In Ward 1, Amy Grandcolas and Joel Vogt are seeking to fill a vacancy created by the resignation of Steve Notheisen, who moved out of the area.
In Ward 2, incumbent Jim Hopkins faces a challenge from Andrew Biffar.
In Ward 3, five candidates are vying for the seat to be vacated by mayoral candidate Stan Darter – Jason Goff, Jason R. Jones Sr., Joshua Pershbacher, Steve Poettker and Jeff Vogt.
In Ward 4, Dennis Bullock, Gary Most and Justin Stephens are running for the seat currently held by longtime alderman Clyde Heller, who is not seeking re-election.
For a map of the aldermanic wards in Waterloo, click here.
For more information on the April 4 election, click here.
Grandcolas, 37, is a 2004 graduate of Waterloo High School and 2008 graduate of Saint Louis University – John Cook School of Business. She works for a St. Louis-based wholesale distributor and manages its national accounts division.
The youngest of four, Grandcolas and her partner Aaron have two dogs, Jaxson and Roscoe.
Grandcolas is president and past secretary of Waterloo Citizens for a Pool and is a member of Delta Sigma Pi Professional Business Fraternity (Past Beta Sigma Chapter Chancellor).
As for her reason to seek office, Grandcolas said she has been driven to lead for over two decades.
“Since high school I have been leading organizational meetings and spearheading projects and events,” she said. “I want to bring a new input and demographic to our city council to ensure that everyone has a voice and representation in the governing and shaping of our community.”
If elected, Grandcolas said she’d like to help make the North Market Street commercial and residential area more pedestrian friendly.
“The most requested amenity from the public engagement survey for Waterloo’s 2018 Comprehensive Plan was sidewalks, so I plan to make this a priority.”
She would also push for sustainability – including such ideas as water fountains with bottle refilling, trash cans with recycling in public areas, water conservation initiatives for residents, plastic reduction incentives for businesses, and eco-friendly options for single-use dining at community events.
More community engagement is another goal.
“For the rich traditions of Waterloo to continue, the next generation of our community needs to become engaged and involved in our local government and civic organizations,” she said. “To promote an environment of participation and transparency, the city council should consider remote viewing options for city meetings.”
The key issue in the municipal races, Grandcolas said, is moving the community forward.
“Another Ward 1 resident put it best when they quipped to me years ago, ‘Waterloo is a small town that doesn’t realize it’s not a small town anymore.’ Embracing this concept is the key issue,” she said. “Our leaders must be looking and moving forward to ensure that our city’s offerings and infrastructure can sustain Waterloo’s growing population and add value for our residents.”
As for what makes her stand out from the opponent, Grandcolas touted experience through leading a town hall meeting, developing a comprehensive project plan, presenting to the Wateroo Park District Board and Waterloo City Council, working with local businesses and foundations, coordinating networking and fundraising events and facilitating meetings.
Vogt is a lifelong resident of Waterloo who graduated from college at Missouri S&T and worked in the mechanical engineering field, specializing in plumbing and fire protection since 2012. He’s been a licensed professional engineer since 2017 with a company in Belleville.
Vogt and his wife Michelle have three young daughters. His wife, a former high school teacher, now stays home with their children and teaches Sunday School at St. John United Church of Christ in Maeystown.
“One of the main reasons for my candidacy is to ensure that the future of Waterloo is bright for my daughters,” Vogt said. “I want to keep Waterloo prosperous, safe and a great place to raise a family.”
Vogt said he hopes to provide his experience to the city council.
“Waterloo is unique that we own our utility infrastructure: the natural gas, sewer, water and electrical systems are all city owned,” he said. “We can produce our own electricity and soon we will have our own water plant. I will provide unique experience and perspective to the city council when guiding decisions on how these utilities are operated and maintained into the future in the best interests of taxpayers.”
Vogt added he wants the city to be “a willing partner” with the business community, “working with business owners to uphold the high standards that we expect in Waterloo equally, but not be an undue burden to business development.”
Vogt said the existing climate of inflation and economic uncertainty are key issues in this race.
“I want to keep the city focused on what benefits the taxpayers most and exercise budgetary restraint where necessary,” he said. “Any programs or issues that are outside of the core programs already in existence should be looked at with an open mind, but with the end goal of doing what is right for the taxpayers.”
Vogt said he stands out from his opponent in that her main theme is “forward.”
“‘Forward’ is a relative term, meaning one person’s or group’s ‘forward’ may not be the best direction for the rest of the community,” Vogt said. “I think her leadership position in an advocacy group that has asked for city subsidies in the past will make it difficult to make good financial decisions for what’s best for our citizens. I am open to viewing all potential projects that come to the board through the lens of greatest net benefit. I do not have any personal end-goals. I would take each issue that the city council might encounter with an impartial mindset, using my engineering experience with the goal of doing what is best for the businesses and taxpayers of Waterloo, to keep us on the right track.”
Biffar grew up in Waterloo and moved away to complete his military contract.
“I always knew that I wanted to raise my children in the same town that I grew up in and I want to continue to make Waterloo be the place that our residents want to raise their children and grandchildren in,” he said.
Biffar works as a measurement technician at Enable Gases in Columbia. He spent six years as a nuclear machinist mate in the U.S. Navy and served on the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower.
He and wife Allison have three sons.
Biffar is a member of Valmeyer Knights of Columbus, is a coach for the Waterloo Junior Bulldogs Soccer Club, and serves as a volunteer coach for the Waterloo Sports Association.
“As a proud life-long resident of Waterloo, I want to give back to my community and keep it the place that I can be proud to say I’m from,” he said.
A key issue in the race, according to Biffar is lowering the monetary burden on city residents.
As for how he stands out from his opponent, Biffar said that “as the competitor to Mr. Hopkins, the incumbent, I am looking forward to bringing new opinions and ideas to the city council.
Hopkins, 67, is a longtime alderman who graduated from Columbia High School in 1973 and is retired from Ironworkers Local 392.
He is married to wife Sharon and has five living children and 15 grandchildren. He is the father of slain Illinois State Police Trooper Nick Hopkins.
Hopkins is a member of Hope Christian Church and is a Morrison-Talbott Library trustee.
Hopkins said he hopes to continue “proven fiscal responsibility, to ‘stick up’ for Ward 2, and preserve the beauty and charm of ‘our’ Waterloo.”
If re-elected, he aims to accomplish completion and operation of the new water plant and asphalt overlay of the downtown area.
Key issues in the race, according to Hopkins, are to adhere to the proposed comprehensive plan and expand and maintain 20 (or more) police officers.
As for what makes him stand out from the opponent, Hopkins listed his 20-year experience as alderman and “by being available, meeting the people’s needs, by returning calls, listening and solving their problems.”
Goff, 50, has been a Waterloo resident nearly all of his life, graduating in 1990 from Waterloo High School. He has been an underground utilities operator for the City of Waterloo since 2001.
He and wife Dawn have a daughter and son.
Goff is a member of the Independent Order of Oddfellows.
Goff said he is running “to support and promote the growth, progress and safety of our wonderful community.”
If elected, Goff said he would like to “expedite the lines of communication between the residents and City Hall to form a better government for our community, upgrade and institute an overlay street program to ensure our streets are properly surfaced and maintained on an annual basis, and introduce a maintenance and replacement program for our existing utilities’ infrastructure.”
A key issue of this race, Goff said, is to “encourage citizens to express their voices by utilizing their right to vote and making sure the right person is elected to accomplish these goals for the public while maintaining responsible and proper financial spending and planning.”
As for how he stands out from opponents, Goff said he believes the major difference is his 22 years of city utilities experience to “accomplish the goals of maintaining and improving our aging infrastructure.”
“Experience and knowledge of the utility system is vital to ensure the proper planning, maintenance and improvement of our infrastructure while maintaining financial responsibility while achieving these goals,” Goff said.
Jason Jones Sr.
Jones, 43, grew up in Waterloo and is a high school history teacher with a degree from Northeastern Illinois University.
He is married to Mandy Jones and is the father of two sets of twins.
Jones is a member of Concord Presbyterian Church, Scouts BSA, Illinois Federation of Teachers and Maeystown Sportsman’s Club.
“As a concerned citizen and parent active in locgovernment, as a history teacher who participates in meetings of public bodies, I am uniquely qualified to understand and address the concerns of today’s Ward 3 residents,” he said. “I want to step up and be a part of the solution for the future of my hometown.”
If elected, Jones said he hopes to have council meetings livestream to better facilitate public participation and communication.
“I know in the past, citizens brought that to the council and there was some interest from the council,” he said. “Similarly, it would be very easy when key issues of public interest come up – such as a pool, or a treatment and recovery center for women – to survey the public such as is already done for things like gas lines, water lines, etc. For topics of great importance that dominate public conversation, the public deserves to contribute real input.”
Jones added he is a strong proponent of public utilities and “will work to sustain and strengthen our power system and our future water system.” He’ll also work to continue the “strong support the Waterloo Police Department and Waterloo Fire Department deserve,” will work to “continue the excellence of our public library” and work “toward stronger protections for our historic buildings, so we don’t forget our yesterday while we build our tomorrow.”
Jones said he will regularly gather input from residents in his ward and would host two “Ward 3 days”every year – one in Lion’s Park and one in Lakeview Park.
Key issues in the race, according to Jones, include communication between City Hall and residents, managing growth wisely, public safety, and public use of infrastructure, facilities, and services
“I am committed to doing the work to represent all people of Ward 3,” Jones said. “Since last October, I’ve walked the ward and spoken with hundreds of residents, taking time to listen, learn and understand the ideas and concerns they have. I know my opponents are not doing this because the residents have told me so, from October to this past weekend. I am the candidate that will gladly hear citizens’ voices, speak boldly on their behalf, and do the work necessary to give the people of Ward 3 the infrastructure, facilities, programs and service they deserve.”
Perschbacher, 40, is a U.S. Navy veteran who works at Scott Air Force Base supporting U.S. Transportation Command. He has degrees in education from Southern Illinois University Carbondale and Northern Illinois University, and a graduate certificate from the University of Chicago.
He has worked in veterans services at various universities since 2014, most recently University of Missouri-St. Louis until 2021.
His wife Megan is a teacher at Gardner Elementary and they have two children.
“In 2020, we started a small family craft canning business making pickles and salsa. We can be found most Saturdays in the summer at the Monroe County Farmers Market,” he said.
Perschbacher is founder of The Vetwork, a 501c3 that helps veterans transition out of the military and into civilian careers. He’s also the director of fundraising and a defenseman for the St Louis Blues Warriors, a disabled veteran hockey organization.
“Supporting my community is something that is ingrained in me,” Perschbacher said. “Since deciding to raise our family in Waterloo in 2018 when work brought us to the region, we have been made to feel at home by everyone in the community. This is truly a remarkable community that has welcomed our family with open arms. I feel we all have a civic duty to give back and this was a great opportunity to support our community.”
If elected, Perschbacher said there are infrastructure projects – specifically in the area of technology – that the community should implement.
“We need to be looking to the future and ensuring that Waterloo has the resources and infrastructure to support our children when they come back and call Waterloo home when they decide to have families,” he said.
A lack of affordable is one of the key issues in the race, he said.
“Since moving here in 2018, the cost of home ownership has increased by ~30%. For young people that are wanting to start a family, or empty nesters that are looking to downsize, we must find a way to make Waterloo affordable for its most important asset, its people.”
Perschbacher said that he’s moved more than 20 times in his life, but Waterloo is the place his family chooses to call home.
“This is where we want our kids to be proud to say they are from,” he said.
Poettker, 43, was born and raised in New Baden and graduated from Wesclin High School in 1997. He studied at Belleville Area College and Eastern Illinois University, graduating with a degree in political science.
Poettker joined the U.S. Air Force in 2003 and was commissioned in 2009. He served on active duty until 2014, then joined the Illinois Air National Guard In 2015. He transferred to the Missouri Air National Guard in 2017 and is still serving in that capacity.
Deployments include Iraq, Qatar and Guam.
Poettker is married to wife Lauren.
He is a lifetime member of the VFW.
If elected, Poettker said he wants to “put priorities on neighborhoods, kids’ activities and residential quality-of-life initiatives while maintaining a small-business friendly community.”
As for key issues in the race, Poettker said getting the city to “better maintain common areas, streets, lights and sewers,” better using funds “that will have an impact on everyday residential life,” and a city pool.
“We need sustainable outdoor activities for children. Our children are growing up with too many indoor activities like video games and watching YouTube,” he said. “We need to provide more fun outdoor spaces/activities.”
Poettker touted experience in “managing multi-million dollar programs and working with people from across the country with diverse backgrounds and ideas to accomplish missions and goals. I’ve seen a lot good leadership and some bad… I borrow ideas from the good. I’d like to bring some of my experiences and lessons learned home to Waterloo.”
Vogt is a lifelong resident of Waterloo and former owner of JV’s Downtown Bar & Grill for 37 years.
The eldest of six, he has three adult children and six grandchildren. He is married to wife Denise.
Among his organizations and affiliations are Waterloo Rotary Club, Kaskaskia Trail Chorus, Waterloo Fire Department, Illinois Licensed Beverage Association and the American Beverage Licensees.
He previously served as a city alderman in Waterloo.
“I have always followed and had interest in the business of the city,” Vogt said.
Among key issues of the race, Vogt said, is infrastructure.
“Waterloo is unique in that it controls the utilities and soon will be running a water plant. Every candidate will tote improving infrastructure. A program should be discussed to curb-gutter and overlay the older parts of Waterloo – examples are Hickory, Oak and Stiening streets. Sunset Acres – one of the first subdivisions – should be on the list. Maintenance never goes away.”
Vogt said utility safety, economic development, public safety and property taxes are some issues residents wanted to discuss with him as he visited voters.
“The City of Waterloo has a $32 million budget and is financially sound and by no accident,” he said. “Past and present councils have been good stewards of tax and utility profits. Everyone wants police protection, fire protection, inexpensive utilities and property taxes.”
Vogt said that regionally, Waterloo needs a “seat at the table” for the Southwestern Illinois Connector.
“For over 60 years, there has been a desire to connect Carbondale, Murphysboro with a better way to get to St. Louis. The route proposed comes through the Waterloo area. Economic development needs transportation access and utilities. Though 10 years in the future, it needs to be on the city watch list, as a four-lane will change every city along the proposed route,” Vogt said.
Vogt said with his prior experience as alderman and years of business ownership, he “can help move the city forward while attempting to keep the small-town feel.”
Bullock, 49, is a local business owner with an accounting and finance degree and over 25 years of program, financial and logistical management in the banking/financial sector.
He is married to wife Jennifer and has four children and two grand-daughters.
Bullock is a member of the Waterloo Chamber of Commerce and Explore Waterloo and is an investor in Monroe County startUp.
“I feel that the city council has an opportunity for better planning and expanded communication with residents and businesses,” Bullock said. “I feel that I can bring a wealth of experience to the table to properly represent the city.”
If elected, Bullock said he hopes to “bring forth better communication, organization, leadership and transparency to the city council to build trust and relationships with the local community.”
As for key issues in this race, Bullock lists the Waterloo City Pool, streets and safety, in addition to support of local small business.
“Having three local businesses in Waterloo, I have a vested interest in the success and prosperity of Waterloo,” Bullock said. “This, compounded by my professional experience, I can bring real world impact to the city council along with the residents and businesses of Ward 4.”
Most is an outgoing member of the Waterloo School Board with experience in marketing, strategic and budgetary planning, project management and communications.
A graduate of Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville, Most is president of Marketicity, LLC.
He and wife Angela have son and daughter and miniature dachshund.
Most is a member of the Waterloo Optimist Club, St. Paul United Church of Christ, Waterloo School Board, St. Paul Cemetery Board President and the Monroe County Coalition for Drug-Free Communities Executive Board, Monroe County startUp, Hometown Harmony, Piranhas Swim Team and Waterloo Chamber of Commerce.
“My goal is to use my experience to help keep the great things about our community great and to work to improve those things that will make it even better for families, businesses, employees, and all residents (taxpayers),” he said.
If elected, Most aims to “utilize his professional experience, dedication to fiscal responsibility and strength in planning and communication to ensure a vision for community growth is maintained and followed. I look forward to bringing a voice to community members in city government.”
Key issues in the race, Most said, include a focus on developing and maintaining infrastructure – new and existing roads, new city water plant, power plant and sewer plant, and plans for the continued growth going forward.
“We need to manage for growth without losing what has made Waterloo so attractive for longtime and new residents,” he said.
Most said his history of service to the community and local organizations helps him stand out from opponents.
“I believe that my professional experience in marketing, planning, strategic development and communications will benefit not only the residents of Ward 4 but Waterloo as a whole,” he said. “I am not afraid to ask hard questions, push for what I feel is right or work hard to achieve the best possible outcomes with positions I am dedicated to.”
Stephens, 45, is a graduate of Belleville West High School with 20 years of utility experience and knowledge.
He has 20 years of contracted work with Ameren and is a member of IBEW Local 309. Currently, within the last month, he became a laborer for Local 459 at Illinois American Water.
He has a son and a significant other of 16 years named Natalie.
Organizations and affiliations include Holy Name Society member for Ss. Peter & Paul Parish, Waterloo Independent Order of Odd Fellows member and Crew Soccer assistant coach.
“I want to represent your views and your voice on council,” Stephens said. “I want to be one of eight decision makers who develop the future for our community, ensure its alignment with your values, and support the vision that you have for your family, business and self.”
If elected, Stephens said he aims to “update city infrastructure, modernize City Hall to become more efficient for employees and residents, reduce wasteful spending, and preserve Waterloo’s small-town feel and atmosphere.”
Lack of communication between aldermen and residents, outdated infrastructure, code enforcement on property maintenance to keep Waterloo clean and property values up, and utilizing the comprehensive plan to continue improving Waterloo are among the key issues of this race, he said.
“I am a blue collar worker that believes hard work, dedication and persistence is key to being successful not only on the job site but also as serving as alderman,” Stephens said. “I have been a man of service who chooses to be involved in organizations that are volunteer-based and give back to the community. I come with a fresh perspective which allows me to have an open mind, having never served on a board or committee. I lead with my heart and all I want is what’s best for all residents of Waterloo.”