It isn’t often that political opponents agree on something with intensity, but Donny Knackmus, who has served on the West Salem Board of Trustees for the past four years, and Mike Ristvedt, who has served on the Edwards County Council on Aging, agree that one thing must happen this election season: change. Both candidates are vying for a position on the West Salem Board of Trustees and were motivated to pursue the position for different reasons.

For Knackmus, running for a position on the board appears to be a matter of civic duty. “I live in West Salem; I’m a taxpayer. I can’t change things by myself, but as a concerted effort, we can make a change.” 

Ristvedt, however, appears to be driven by a desire for results, citing “the lack of progress and the discord that takes place over there in those meetings” as his primary reason for running.

Both candidates appear to be keenly interested in focusing on and producing results for interrelated but separate issues concerning the village’s water problems.

Knackmus would like to focus on improving the state of the south lagoon while Ristvedt feels that the state of the village’s water lines and its loss of water are of greater importance.

Concerning the lagoon, Knackmus said, “We’ve got a south lagoon that’s blowing raw sewage out in the ditch; we’ve got to cut everything else to get that lagoon cleaned out.”  

While Ristvedt agrees that the lagoon must be dealt with, he is also concerned about where the money will come from to fix it. “On the issue of cleaning up the south lagoon for the sewage issue there, I’m not that up-to-date on that, but that’s going to have to be a grant. That’s $450,000 dollars.”

What Ristvedt is confident of, however, is the funding for fixing the infrastructural issues within village limits. “There are other issues in town here in regards to water lines, curbing, and things like that we can get TIF funds for, providing the infrastructure we want to repair is within the TIF district.” 

Knackmus, on the other hand, has other plans for what to do with the TIF fund. “I would like to get rid of the TIF funds because it’s taking money away from our schools, our police, and the village as a whole. We’re a low-income community. We just cannot afford for that money to be taken out of our paychecks.” 

Knackmus also appears to be focused on cutting back on unnecessary expenses that will help the village save money. “There should only be two full-time employees working for the village of West Salem; part-time workers would save the village tens of thousands of dollars.”

Ristvedt’s approach to saving the village money is more in line with being fiscally responsible. “I think we’re going to have to watch very closely what the money we spend is spent for. That’s common sense. Until you get everything laid out in front of you and see what has been spent for in the past, it’s a little difficult to answer.”