Businessman will fill vacancy on city council

Businessman will fill vacancy on city council by David Lias In a process that greatly resembled the Survivor reality television show, the Vermillion City Council cast ballots Wednesday night to decide who will represent citizens of the Southeast Ward.

The winner: Jere Chapman, a popular Vermillion businessman.

Chapman and five other citizens residing in the ward all had written letters to the council and Mayor Roger Kozak, asking to be considered for the position.

Candidates for Southeast Ward alderman included:

* Dennis Martens. "I was elected to the city council in 1982 and served for 15 years, leaving in 1997," Martens wrote. "I have continued to observe city business since then. I feel my experience will be helpful in my desire to serve again and return more continuity to the council."

Martens added that he has no agenda other than to help maintain the welfare of the community and quality of life.

* Ro Ann Redlin. She wrote, "I am intending to put my name up for the available seat on the city council vacated by Mr. Kozak to assume his mayoral duties. My experience in state and local government is extensive."

Redlin served as personnel specialist for Gov. Janklow's administration in 1982-83, and for the last 12 years has worked as a full-time legislative lobbyist for several organizations.

"I am familiar with the appropriation and budget process as well as federal and state granting procedures," she wrote. "I have also served on Mayor Radigan's Second Penny Tax Committee and Gov. Janklow's State-wide Task Force on Domestic Violence."

* Creighton A. Thurman. "I am writing to express my continued interest in becoming an alderman for the Southeast Ward and request that you accept this letter as my application thereto," Thurman stated in recent correspondence with the city council.

Thurman was unsuccessful in his bid to be elected as the council's Southeast Ward alderman in last April's city election.

"During your deliberations, I would urge you to consider the recent election results that indicate a fair percentage of the ward expressed that they want me to represent their interests," Thurman wrote.

* Jere Chapman. In an April 24 letter to Kozak, Chapman noted that he desired to be considered for the vacancy on the city council. "I have always wanted to serve on the city council and would have run this past election if it wasn't for the fact that I was in the process of looking at opening another business in another community. This is not happening at this time so I am in a position to serve my fellow citizens."

Chapman, who has lived in Vermillion since 1983, is no stranger to public service. He has served on several volunteer boards in the community. He is a past president of United Way, the current president of the SESDAC, Inc. board, and is serving his second term on the Vermillion Chamber of Commerce.

"I belong to the Lions club and Sertoma's," Chapman wrote. I stay informed in what happens in Vermillion and would like to be a part in the decision-making body to continue to make Vermillion a better place to live," he stated.

Chapman and his wife, Jan, have owned and operated several businesses in Vermillion over the years. Currently the Chapmans own the Silver Dollar Restaurant, the Cherry Street Grille and Texas Casino.

* Tim Bellis. Bellis informed Kozak by letter that he wanted to be considered for the Southeast Ward vacancy. Bellis, who has just finished the Leadership 2000 course presented by the Farber Center at USD, has been actively involved in business and volunteer groups.

"You and I have met informally on several occasions, but you'll probably remember me from my interest in promoting USD with my radio stations," he wrote. Bellis and his wife have lived in Vermillion for two years. His wife teaches at USD.

* Nicolas Severson. Severson's letter was presented to council members at Wednesday's meeting, apparently not arriving in time for them to receive it by mail over the weekend. Kozak noted that there is no indication at the Clay County Courthouse that Severson is registered to vote in Vermillion.

"We will want to be sure that there is an understanding (by him) that if he is selected, he must register," Kozak said.

Jack Powell nominated Chapman to fill the vacancy on the council. "I believe he's been an energetic businessman, and I've been on some committees with him and I've found him very supportive," he said.

Alderman Barbara Yelverton nominated Redlin for the post.

"I think her presence here would help diversify the council, and I know from her background she would be a good addition to the council," she said.

"I think one of the advantages we all have here tonight is we have more than one very qualified person to consider for the council," Alderman Frank Slagle said, "and that's a real plus."

Kozak expressed support for Chapman.

"Jere has served on the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, and he is a worker," he said. "And one thing I've noticed is that even though he is a businessman, he is not necessarily out to only promote his own business. He is very interested in seeing that community projects, no matter who is involved, are successful."

After narrowing the field of candidates down to Chapman and Redlin, it was decided that casting ballots would be the best way to select the new alderman.

Chapman received five votes, and Redlin received three.

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