Three candidates for Springfield city treasurer tout experience in a campaign that has become a big-money endeavor for one candidate.
Colleen Redpath Feger, deputy city treasurer and daughter of Ward 1 Ald. Chuck Redpath, has raised nearly $127,000 – that's more than all candidates for treasurer received in the elections of 2015 and 2019 combined. Nearly $55,000 of Feger's money has come from her father's campaign account. Feger makes no apologies for her father's generosity.
"If my own father can't invest in me, who can?" she says.
Lisa Badger, a Springfield Park Board member, has raised $7,800. City budget director William McCarty has loaned his campaign $24,000, according to his most recent state campaign disclosure reports, which show one contribution of $500.
All three candidates say their experience – McCarty is city budget director, Feger is deputy city treasurer and Badger once worked for the state treasurer's office – qualify them for the job.
McCarty boasts that the city's financial reserves have swelled from $2.6 million to $60 million since he took over the city's budget office. "I can't take 100% credit for that," he says. "As leader of the financial department, I have played a significant part in the strategy behind all of that."
McCarty organized the consolidation of city garages under former Mayor Mike Houston, a move that eliminated separate vehicle services for separate departments. McCarty, a former Williamsville mayor who dropped a run for Springfield mayor in the 2011 campaign, says the consolidation is saving the city more than $3 million a year. "We had about 50 people working in fleet operations around the city," he says. "Today, we have about 23."
McCarty, who now earns more than $128,000 a year, would take a pay cut if he wins the treasurer's post, which pays $89,685. He doesn't rule out the possibility of using the treasurer's office as a stepping stone if he wins. "I cannot predict the future," he says. He said he paid for a poll last fall that showed he had 95% name recognition with city voters, better than the incumbent, whom he praises. "The office, to be honest, I think it's running well," he says.
McCarty said he'd try to increase the rate of return on city funds. He said he also wants to open the office outside usual hours and establish an automated payment kiosk to pay utility bills or parking tickets.
McCarty says that his only endorsements have come from former mayor Mike Houston and Ward 4 Ald. John Fulgenzi. He said that he didn't return most endorsement forms from organizations that endorse candidates. "I want to walk into office without any IOUs in my back pocket," he said.
Feger says that experience is the most important issue and that her experience as deputy city treasurer sets her apart from other candidates. She praises the incumbent, Misty Buscher, who hired her four years ago, while also saying she can build on the current treasurer's legacy.
"She's the best city treasurer we've ever had," Feger says. "I'm the only candidate who has the experience, in the office, doing the job. ... We can always do more."
Feger says she'd like to streamline data so that the treasurer's office would have a database of all debts owed to the city, a change that likely would require city council approval. Consolidating debt within the treasurer's office would make it easier to collect, she says. "I can't tell you I can make that happen, but I will try – I will try my darndest to bring everybody together," she said.
Feger said she'd also like to start allowing people to pay parking tickets by phone and also create a live chat system that would allow people with parking tickets to text with a person in the treasurer's office.
The city should keep its funds in local banks, as the incumbent has done, Feger says, but she would solicit proposals for banking services to ensure the highest rate of return. "We want that money to stay local," she says. "We'll see what everybody sends back in and we'll go from there."
Feger's other contributors include the city firefighters' union, the Sangamon County Republican Central Committee, the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 965, the Central Illinois Building and Construction Trades Council, Laborers Local 477 and Local 137 Plumbers and Steamfitters.
Badger, a business agent for Teamsters Local 916, says her experience as a community affairs specialist with the state treasurer's office, where she worked from 2017 until 2020, would serve her well in the city treasurer's office. She said she'd like to organize financial literacy programs for city residents to help people learn about managing credit, buying homes and personal banking. Cost, she says, shouldn't be an issue. "I don't think it's an expensive venture," she said. "It's more an investment in time, an investment in the community itself."
Badger also says the treasurer's office should be more user friendly. It should be easier to pay fines and parking tickets online, she said, perhaps by using QR codes and allowing people to settle parking tickets with the use of license plate or VIN numbers instead of requiring citation numbers. There also should be a searchable database for parking tickets so people can know what, if anything, they might owe and so parents can ensure their kids aren't racking up fines.
Badger asks why changes supported by Feger haven't already been accomplished. "Her advertising says she's been doing the job for four years," Badger says. "Why haven't these things been implemented?"
In addition to her work for the Teamsters and the state treasurer, Badger has worked as a nurse at Logan Correctional Center. Before obtaining her licensed practical nurse credentials, she worked in the restaurant industry. She holds a master's degree in conflict resolution from Dominican University, where she earned a bachelor's degree in legal studies.
Badger has been endorsed by U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, Springfield and Central Illinois Trades and Labor Council and Teamsters Local 916.This article has been updated with a correction: Former mayor Mike Houston has endorsed William McCarty, not current mayor Jim Langfelder.