Colp voters make history by electing first Black village president Marcella Clark made history Tuesday as the first person of color to be elected as village president of Colp. Byron Hetzler COLP — Voters in the village of Colp made history Tuesday night when they selected a Black female as their next village president. Marcella
Colp voters make history by electing first Black village president
COLP — Voters in the village of Colp made history Tuesday night when they selected a Black female as their next village president.
Marcella Clark was elected with 30 votes — to incumbent Village President Tammy O’Daniell-Howell’s 16 and challenger Bryan Riekena’s 11.
Clark will take office in May.
Colp — a predominantly white, incorporated village of less than 250 and its neighboring communities of No. 9 and Dewmaine — were places that accepted Black residents when many towns in Southern Illinois did not allow persons of color to reside in their city limits.
But Clark did not give history much thought when she decided to run.
“I don’t know if she even thought about that when she decided to run. She was more concerned about the community, Clark’s sister and campaign manager, Mary Ann Duncan, said.
“No person of color has been mayor. They were all male until the last election,” Clark said. “I think it’s time to have a person of color, and I’ll be the second woman. I think women should be able to serve in higher positions.”
O’Daniell-Howell became village president in the 2017 consolidated election after a tie vote in which she and Riekena each received 11 votes. The election was decided with a coin flip that O’Daniell-Howell won.
Clark said Friday afternoon that she wanted to be village president because “it seems like the village has gone down.”
“Things are changing and not for the best. I figured I could get in and make it better,” Clark said.
She believes the village needs a fresh start. Her campaign motto was “Fresh Start with Marcella Clark.”
Clark has served on the Colp Village Board for a total of 15 years, first elected after her husband’s death in 1992. He also served on the village board.
She said she served a term, took some time off, and then ran again.
During her tenure, Clark served on the committee that raised funds to establish Colp Neighborhood Playground, which opened in 2017.
Clark said people who grew up in Colp are interested in retiring back in their hometown, but change their minds after visiting. The town needs cleaned up, so it will be a place people want to live.
She said her most important tasks as village president will be to try to bring people together and encourage the community to volunteer for projects that help the village.
“I always believe it’s possible. I do believe it’s just a matter of getting the right people in office to work with,” Clark said.
She, with the approval of two village trustees, will have some spots to fill.
No candidates ran for clerk, treasurer or four of five open trustee seats.
Donna G. Miles was elected to serve a two-year unexpired term as trustee. Openings include four, four-year terms and another two-year term as trustee.
“She’d like to see people have the mindset of ‘what can I give’ rather than ‘what can I get’,” said Kathy Williams, Clark’s daughter.
Clark said she would like to update some city processes, including having written applications for city employees and updating their job descriptions. The city also needs to hire a water superintendent.
“I hate nepotism,” she said, adding that requiring applications will ensure that people who are hired meet the qualifications.
She would also like to see a few more businesses come to the city. She would like the village to work with the unincorporated areas.
“It’s a pleasure to serve with the boards I have and a pleasure to work with them. I thank the people who supported me for this role and the trust they have in me,” Clark said. “I love this village. I love the people in it.”