EAST PEORIA — John Kahl was sworn in Tuesday as the new full-time mayor of East Peoria.
"I appreciate the trust the people have placed in me," Kahl told a packed council meeting room at City Hall on Tuesday after taking the oath of office. "I will strive to do the best job I possibly can."'
Commissioner Dan Decker was sworn in to his fourth term on the council. Three new commissioners, Mark Hill, Mike Sutherland and Seth Mingus, also took the oath of office delivered by City Clerk Morgan Cadwalader. All five men will serve four-year terms.
Retiring from the council was Dave Mingus, who served 12 years as mayor, 12 years as commissioner and on the local school board before that. Tim Jeffers, who lost to Kahl in April's mayoral election, also ended 12 years on the City Council. Both men were praised by the two remaining members of the council and generously thanked for their service.
Decker, who is an assistant chief of the East Peoria Fire Department, said he first met Mingus as a participant in a CPR class he was teaching. As a newly-appointed commissioner overseeing the fire department, Mingus took the class to better understand the duties of a firefighter, Decker said.
"Doing something you don't have to do showed me then who he was," Decker said.
Jeffers was praised as a dedicated and studious commissioner.
"Tim took more time than anyone I knew studying an issue," Decker said. "He was a true asset to our community."
The old council adjourned. The new council was seated.
The new commissioners were given their assignments. In the city's commission form of government, each commissioner is responsible for overseeing a city department. Hill, who has served 19 years on the city's zoning board, will be responsible for accounting and finances; Sutherland, for public property; Mingus, the son of the retiring mayor, for public health and safety; and Decker will retain his position as head of streets and public improvements. As mayor, Kahl takes on the multifaceted role of head of public affairs.
In one of its first actions, the new council approved making Kahl a full-time mayor, a designation that is at the discretion of the council. He will earn $55,000 a year. Kahl said a consensus was reached at a council orientation he organized a couple of weeks ago that included personal bonding, team building and pizza.
Kahl, who worked in sales, resigned his job this week to take on his role as a full-time mayor. The new council thought it was necessary to make the mayor full time, because there is currently no city administrator, and no plans to hire one.
All the new commissioners vowed to work hard in service of the residents of East Peoria. Sutherland took it a little further.
"I think I'm a serious person, but (as commissioner) I'll have a smile," he said. "And I'll try not to cuss. It'll be hard, but I'll try my best."
An impressive array of cookies awaited in the hallway.
Scott Hilyard can be reached at 686-3244 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @ScottHilyard.