Saying he's still got the "fire in the belly" to tackle another four years as Du Quoin mayor, plus see a series of ongoing projects through to completion, Mayor Guy Alongi says he will run for a third term next year.
The elected offices of Du Quoin mayor and all four city commissioners will be on the April 4, 2023 consolidated election ballot.
"This might be my last run," Alongi said on Tuesday. "If I'm fortunate enough to be reelected, I'll be 73 at the end of the term."
But that's no guarantee he would retire in 2027, saying he has the benefit of great family support, especially that of his wife, Rose.
"My wife and I have put our heart and soul into Du Quoin," he said. "She's at every event with me and she's been a big player in tourism. Everybody in Du Quoin loves my wife. They may not love me," he cracked, "but they love my wife."
A former city commissioner, Alongi was elected mayor in 2015 and reelected in 2019. Now, he's anticipating the half-million gallon water tower going up in the Du Quoin industrial park and the big overlay of Hickory Street in 2024, as well as keeping the general financial health of the city in mind, and says he wants to continue to be the guiding hand.
"I've still got a lot of fire in my belly," he said this week. He believes his nearly eight-year record as mayor will play to his advantage in a contested election.
"We get people involved," he added. "Where else would you get people to donate private funds for Christmas decorations, or for the pool? People in this town get involved, they donate their time and money. People don't do that unless they like where they live and are proud of where they live."
Alongi said he doesn't expect people to understand or agree with every decision. "But every decision I make is what I think is for the betterment of Du Quoin," he said.
In early 2022 it's hard to know how much the fading pandemic will play into the 2023 election. Saying he was determined to keep the city as safe as possible, Alongi followed state COVID guidelines mostly to the letter. Not everybody loved that, but he stuck to his guns, and has said that now the city is emerging from the pandemic in solid shape.
Alongi also appointed Jill Kirkpatrick to the city council, only the third female commissioner the city has had, and in Ruth Hale he chose the first woman to be city clerk in Du Quoin history.
The mayor prides his administration on the transparency of city government.
"In order to be a good leader you have to have the pulse of the people," Alongi said, "to reach out and keep the public informed to the best of your ability."
City council meetings have been broadcast on Channel 16, but in the past month the city also set up a Facebook Live feed. Now, meetings can be not only watched in real time, but viewed later, or more than once.
Moreover, Alongi has embraced social media, and he uses his own Facebook account as a megaphone for city events and information delivery, to congratulate citizens and commiserate with families.
Whenever his time as mayor ends, Alongi said he wants to know Du Quoin is in good financial shape.
"I want to leave Du Quoin as a place people love," he said. "It's a good hometown."