Ready to serve: Hoehn begins term

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On New Year’s Eve, new associate District No. 2 Commissioner Keith Hoehn and other county officials were formally sworn into office by Perry County Clerk Jared Kutz in the courtroom at the county courthouse.
His first day on the job was Jan. 1, 2021 but since surviving a seven-way primary battle in August and a two-man race in the general election, not a whole lot has changed in the past two months.
“It’s not really going to be that much different,” Hoehn said. “I’ve been here since after the election. (Commissioners) Mike (Sauer) and Jay (Wengert) both wanted me here basically to get ready to go when the day came (to start).”
And that’s just what’s he’s been doing.
Outgoing commissioner Jim Sutterer did his best to help get Hoehn up to speed.
“I’ve been with Jim (Sutterer) a bunch of places,” Hoehn said. “We were over at Grand Tower, Illinois the other day to check out a couple of miles of road.”
For the next few weeks, the main topic of discussion will be finalizing a new county budget.
“We’re getting the county’s budget lined up for the year, getting that kind of stuff lined up.”
For many residents, resolving the Covid-19 crisis is another top priority.
“Obviously, the Covid stuff is a key thing, trying to get that all figured out with what we’re going to do with the health department,” Hoehn said. “We are working to make sure we’re all on the same page with them.”
Hoehn defeated six other candidates - four with Perryville addresses and two with Frohna residences in the rescheduled August primary - then garnered nearly twice as many votes as challenger Ronald “Rocky” Schumer in the general election.
For him, the process of campaigning was drawn out and time-consuming.
“It was very tiresome and grueling on the campaign,” Hoehn said. “It was a lot of time.”
In a typical year, there may have been more debates and public forums. Last year, there was just Republican debate prior to the primary at the gaming center plus a Chamber-sponsored coffee connections event at the Catalyst Center.
“You couldn’t really do rallies,” Hoehn said. “You could not get anything going until they started opening places back up again. You’re sitting there ordering stuff and all you could really do was put yard signs out until June.”
Door hangers were an option but Hoehn didn’t do that until closer to the general election.
“I waited until they started opening things up more,” he said.
Hoehn does not think a mask requirement in the county is on the horizon, though he understands those who feel the need to wear one.
“I don’t think there is going to be a mandate of any kind,” Hoehn said. “I think it’s going to be like it is now. If you feel safe wearing one, wear it. If not, then don’t (wear one).”
“Small businesses would never survive another shutdown,” Hoehn said. “I think honesty, it’s just going to be by our word. We were approached by a lot of them over the course of this pandemic. They have our trust that we’re going to do everything we can not to shut them down again.”

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