Candidates take part in forum


The candidates had the opportunity to say their piece and stake their claim as to why they were the best for the position. The candidates for the key races in April Municipal Election took part in a “Commitment to Citizenship Celebration” forum at the American Legion March 23.
The event was hosted by the Republican and Democratic Central Committees as a chance to allow each candidate to be heard.
Each candidate for the Perry County Health Board of Trustees, Perry County Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees, Perry County School District 32 School Board, Altenburg Public School District No. 48, and City of Perryville Ward 1 Alderman had a few minutes to talk about themselves and why they are running for their specific position as well as answer audience questions.
The first group to speak was the candidates for the Perry County Health Board of Trustees, of which there are two positions to be filled.
Brenda Thurm Hopfer said that she wanted to be a voice for the people of the county, after being a nurse for 43 years.
“I want to find solutions to problems that the county might have,” Hopfer said. “I have been to most of the board meetings so I know how it operates.”
Jeremy Brewster wants to help those in need should he be elected to the Health Board. Brewster has been a nurse for 20 years.
“I am a transplant here in Perryville,” he said. “However, my wife and kids are from here and I have grown to love this community through my work with the hospital. I want to take care of the chronic illnesses and things that might come up, as well as give the community what they need in Perry County to do those things and educate others.”
Desiree Serini sees the board as a way to serve Perry County.
“I have been in the banking industry for eight years,” she said. “I think I can bring a different perspective than someone in the healthcare field. In order to have a well rounded team you must have people who can bring something different to the table. I think I can help the Health Department bring funding and can be a great asset when it comes to finances, and how to budget.”
Gwen (Moore) Schweiss has been in the medical field as a Medical Technologist and believes this can help with her role on the board as well as her fight with an illness that has given her a different look on things.
“I’m trained as a scientist and to be analytical and logical person and someone who can think outside the box to help solve problems,” Schweiss said. “The decisions that I will make will not be made out of fear, but in the faith in God. The same faith that he provided me when fighting to live.”
The Perry County Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees will be filled by one person: Darrell Niswonger (Incumbent), Joe Hutchison, Robin Huber Sims.
Niswonger has been on the board for 10 years and brings with him a lot of experience, which he believes is an asset and also touched on the merger with Mercy Hospital.
“I have been a part of several huge decisions made at the hospital within the past five years,” he said. “PCMH has some of the most committed staff at the hospital and I would put them up against anyone in the area. I believe the affilliation with Mercy will only made that better.”
Hutchison noted that he is a no-nonsense guy who is willing to ask questions when something doesn’t look or feel right.
“I am not opposed to Mercy,” he said. “I’m in favor of good healthcare in Perry County and I want it to be self sustaining in the county.”

Huber Sims has been in the healthcare field for nearly 40 years and is passionate to have the best for Perry County.
“The community is facing a significant change when it comes to our healthcare system and it my intention to continue to help grow one of our vital assets,” she said. “My goal is to ensure the strength of healthcare here and to enhance the patient experience with the care.”
The Perry County School board has three positions to fill, each a three-year term. Those up for election are Jamie Robinson (incumbent), Nancy Voelker (incumbent), Melissa Hahn (incumbent), Glendon Sattler, and John Schaaf. Robinson was not in attendance at the event.
Voelker said she has had to make difficult decisions over the 17 years she has been on the board.
“When you make those decisions you have to be informed, and educated as well as look how it affects the school as a whole, not just a small group,” she said. “We have a good school and we are going to get where we need to be. It takes a village that that involves everyone at the district as well as the community.”
Sattler believes that excellence in our schools needs to be the standard.
“there are many businesses in this community that ranks nationally and our school needs to reflect that,” Sattler said. “We have to ask important questions and our school to reflect the community in which we live.”
Schaaf that test scores should be higher among other state schools.
“The Show-Me Institute does an analysis on the school districts and Perry County came out 401 of 516 in the state. We need to do something about this,” he said. “We need to attack this early with our primary and elementary school students. We want long term change and that’s where we start.”
Hahn said there are several ways we can help improve that excellence within the district.
“Parent involvement is huge and parents need to be more informed about what their child is doing at school, as well as supporting the teachers and staff,” she said. “They are key to helping our students reach their full potential.”
The Altenburg Public School District No. 48 has a pair of three-year term positions open to be filled by Jessica Hecht (incumbent), Amy Ussery (incumbent) and Tamara Palisch.
Hecht and Ussery were not in attendance.
Palisch said her passion is the children of the school and help guide the district.
“My passion is to help guide the children,” she said. “So that they can get an optimal education. That is not only academic, but emotional and otherwise. There are a lot of things coming down the pike that could be challenging.”
City of Perryville Ward 1 Alderman is a race between Dennis House and Seth Amschler. Amschler was not in attendance at the event.
House is the incumbent and filled in for now Perryville Mayor Larry Riney for the rest of his term after being elected. House served the final year of Riney’s term.
“After just one year, I have barely learned how Perryville functions,” he said. “Our city is very active and my main interest is in housing incentives for single family homes, the park system and the growth of our airport.”