GOP forum spotlights Tazewell County auditor, board candidates

By Bill Dwyer for Chronicle Media

William C. Funkhouser (Bradley University photo)

Kaden Nelms (LinkedIn photo)

A 90-minute in-person candidate panel forum Feb. 22 will give interested Tazewell County voters the chance to hear from the two candidates for county auditor and eight candidates for a total of six seats in two County Board districts.

The public event, hosted by the Tazewell County GOP, will be held at Freedom Hall in Morton on Feb. 22, starting at 6 p.m. While reservations are not required the organizers say that RSVPs “are appreciated.” They say that the moderator of the panel discussion will include some written questions from the audience.

Other Republicans on the March 19 primary ballot will be given the opportunity to speak as time permits.

The upcoming forum looked like it would be a bit more crowded before Roy Paget, currently a County Board member representing District 2, withdrew his candidacy for County Board chairman. Current County Auditor Brett Grimm is now the only candidate for that office, which became open when incumbent chairman David Zimmerman announced he would not seek reelection.

The Tazewell County Auditor’s office has been roiled by controversy in recent years. In 2020, Grimm won what was termed a “bitter” race for county auditor over incumbent Shelly Hranka by some 35 percent. According to media accounts at the time, Hranka and the board clashed repeatedly over staffing and salary cuts, leading to lawsuits filed by her against the board and Zimmerman. In 2018, a county board-backed referendum to make her elected position an appointed one was rejected by voters.

With Grimm assured of assuming the board chairmanship, two people have stepped forward to vie to replace him as county auditor. They are current District 1 board member Kaden Nelms of Pekin, and William C. Funkhouser of Morton. Both are Republicans, as are all the candidates for the County Board, effectively making the March 19 primary the general election.

Nelms, who attended Bradley University, was the 2020 Libertarian Nominee for Tazewell auditor. He is in the middle of a four-year term on the County Board, and says “government accountability and government transparency” are major issues for him. His LinkedIn page lists his current employment as “Chief Operating Officer at Citizens for Kaden Nelms. Self-employed. Jul 2020-Present.”

Funkhouser, a Certified Public Accountant, earned a master’s degree from the University of Illinois and a bachelor’s in accounting from Millikin University. He is “Executive in Residence, Finance” at Bradley University, and a full-time faculty member in the Department of Economics and Finance. He points to “extensive executive-level management experience” in the financial industry, including being president and city executive for Bank One Peoria.

There are four candidates in the Republican primary for three seats in District 2 on the County Board. They are Karl Lutz of Pekin, Jonathan Hopkins of Morton, Cathryn Stump of Morton, and Eric Stahl of Tremont.

District 3 also has four candidates for three County Board seats, and they are William “Bill” Atkins of Washington, Michael L. Harris, Eric Schmidgall and Tammy Rich-Stimson, all of Mackinaw.

In County Board District 1, only two Republicans have filed to run for three seats; Ralph Deene Milam and Jay Hall, both of Pekin.

Tazewell County GOP officials ask that those seeking information on Republican candidates not included in this forum check out