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Election 2019: Donald Goncher, Shabbona Village President

Donald J. Goncher, Shabbona interim village president
Donald J. Goncher, Shabbona interim village president

Name: Donald J Goncher

Age: 68

Town: Shabbona

Office sought: Village President

Occupation: Retired

Education: Bachelor's Degree

Elected offices held: Interim Village President


1. Why are you running for village president?

I retired in 2010 after 31 years of Law Enforcement service in patrol and in administration. My last four years were spent being the Chief of Police. Because I was interested in the workings of the local government, I began regularly attending Village Council meetings shortly after moving into Shabbona. When the Village President retired in May 2018, I was asked by council trustees to complete her term. Having served in the position of Interim President for the past 9 months, I feel comfortable, competent and compelled to continue serving the Village in this capacity.

2. Do you think the plans by the Prairie Band Potawatomi to build a Bingo resort would benefit the village? How would you work with the tribe if their idea is approved?

The Village has supported the Potawatomi project since its inception thirteen years ago. The Potawatomi Band is seeking sovereignty to their lands. When they achieve their sovereignty, agreements already in place with DeKalb County, the Village of Shabbona and trades will become viable. Having twice met with Tribe Elders in the past six months, the Village looks forward to working with the tribe in their building of a Bingo Gaming Facility and in their developing a Cultural Center to the benefit of all parties. The jobs created in construction and use will aid the local economy. Not to mention, the additional visitors to the area will bolster the already 400,000 annual State Park visitors we now enjoy.

3. Does Shabbona need to grow to survive? What would be your strategy for trying to attract new development?  

Shabbona does not need to grow to survive; however, it does need to grow to thrive.

The Village is currently looking to revitalize the downtown area via State grants. Trustees are now working with numerous economic development agencies and business associations within the DeKalb County. This list includes the following: Economic Development, Waterman Shabbona Business Assn., Regional Planning Commission, DeKalb County Economic Development Corporation, Moving Shabbona Forward Housing Stock, Pathway Committee, Illinois Transportation Enhancement Corp., and, 2019-2024 Highway Program Region 2 District 3. We are pleased to announce that three new businesses have moved into the Village in the past year.

4. What can the village government do to try to keep utility costs in check?

Unfortunately, we cannot control the cost of gas, but we do belong to a conglomerate to keep our electric costs down. Our Public Works Department has worked diligently to oversee the infrastructure, perform preventive maintenance and respond quickly to occurring defects. The Trustees conduct a monthly review of revenues and expenditures and infrastructure projects to hold costs in check.

5. What is another significant challenge you foresee for the village government in the next four years, and how would you address it?

The significant challenge I foresee is urban Sprawl.  Urban sprawl is encroaching upon the communities to our east. Fifteen miles may seem far away from our community in distance, but not in time.  The residents of Shabbona have expressed serious concerns that the Village keep its small town feel and charm. The Village Council needs to be proactive in putting controls in place that will guide the Village in addressing those concerns and future challenges. If we can achieve that balance we can keep Shabbona a safe place to live, work and visit. We will continue to find new opportunities for Shabbona to succeed in those aspects of our community.

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