Keeping Tazewell County afloat financially is on the minds of candidates running for three open seats in District 3 on the county board in the Nov. 6 election.

Incumbent Seth Mingus, a Republican, is joined by fellow Republicans William “Bill” Atkins and Gregory Longfellow and Democrat Matthew Ward on the ballot.

Mingus, who lives in East Peoria, has been on Tazewell County Board since 2014. He previously served on the Fondulac Library Board and Fondulac Township Board.

The other three District 3 candidates reside in Washington. None has previous political experience.

Atkins was unanimously selected in May by Republican precinct committeemen in District 3 to fill an open spot on the ballot. Only Mingus and Longfellow ran to fill three Republican slots in the March primary.

An attorney now in private practice in Peoria, Atkins previously served as an assistant state’s attorney in Tazewell, Peoria and Livingston counties and headed the office’s civil division in Peoria County. From that post, he provided legal advice to county board members during committee and full board meetings.

Mingus listed fiscal responsibility as the most important issue facing Tazewell County.

“Like many government entities, Tazewell County has seen a decrease in funding and a rise in costs,” he said. “The county board has to continue to cut unnecessary costs and maximize its revenues.”

Atkins said he can provide help in stemming Tazewell County’s continuing budget crisis.

“I’ve assisted in handling numerous budget issues in Tazewell and Peoria counties. Resolving those issues requires the cooperation of all parts of county government,” he said.

“Spending must be reduced and/or delayed where possible and new sources of revenue must be sought,” he said.

Ward worries about the county’s budget shortfall.

“The county does many important things, and none are possible without a solid fiscal foundation,” he said. “The county must aggressively pursue cost control measures to close the budget gap.”

The Tazewell County Board took a major step recently to ease the county’s budget crunch when it approved an employee early retirement package that is expected to save the county about $1.5 million over the next three years.

Each District 3 candidate was asked why residents should vote for him.

Mingus pointed to his 17 years of experience serving constituents at the local and county levels and his experience in school administration that helps him see issues from all perspectives.

He’s the superintendent and principal at South Pekin Grade School and a former assistant principal at Pekin Community High School and athletic director at East Peoria Central Junior High School.

Atkins noted the 20 years he spent in county government before he moved to private practice.

“In that time, I provided advice to county board members and other elected officials on all aspects of the work provided by county government,” he said. “I’ll bring that experience to my service on the Tazewell County Board.”

Ward is a service engineering team leader at Caterpillar Inc., and an officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve. He said he’s a proven leader with the skills and experience to manage budgets and find efficiencies.

“I understand the challenges of managing government organizations and I’m committed to the principles of good government,” he said. “Voters can trust I will act as an honest broker in their best interest.”

Longfellow declined to respond to questions regarding the most important issue facing Tazewell County and why District 3 residents should vote for him. He also did not provide a photo of himself.

District 3 encompasses Boynton, Deer Creek, Fondulac, Hittle, Little Mackinaw, Mackinaw and Washington townships. There are 21 members on the Tazewell County Board, representing three districts.

Steve Stein can be reached at (248) 224-2616 or stevestein21@yahoo.com. Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.