Crim easily wins fourth term as Quincy treasurer

Tom Ernst is consoled by a well-wisher after learning he had been defeated in the race for treasurer. (H-W Photo/Philip Carlson)
Posted: Apr. 10, 2013 12:56 am Updated: Apr. 24, 2013 1:15 am
Peggy Crim holds her granddaughter, Isabella Long, as she talked with supporters at Cedar Crest Country Club on Tuesday night. Crim won a fourth term as treasurer, defeating Tom Ernst. (H-W Photo/Michael Kipley)

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

Peggy Crim said she wasn't nervous about Tuesday's election results.

After running what she said was a positive campaign for re-election as the city's treasurer, Crim didn't feel like she needed to worry.

"Voters are tired of hearing all of the negative campaigning," she said. "You need to get out and tell them what your qualifications are and how you can do the job instead of resorting to lies and innuendoes."

Crim, a Democrat, won a fourth term by soundly defeating Republican challenger Tom Ernst. She collected 58 percent of the vote — 5,774 to Ernst's 4,166 — and won 37 of the city's 40 precincts, losing those three by a combined 14 votes.

Crim became the first Democrat in 32 years and the first woman ever to be elected treasurer in 2001. She ran unopposed in both 2005 and 2009, and campaigned this year on her experience as a financial and investment manager, and the technological advances she said has streamlined operations in the office.

She said she didn't like Ernst's negative campaigning as Tuesday's election drew near. The challenger ran several radio and print ads in the final days that contained the phrase, "Isn't 12 years of nothing long enough?"

"My opponent's comments during the campaign showed that he had no clear understanding of what we do in the treasurer's office or what the role of the treasurer is," Crim said. "His ill-conceived proposals and criticisms of me were without merit, and I'm appreciative of voters who saw through that.

"The citizens of Quincy have entrusted me with managing their money for the past 12 years, a responsibility I take seriously. Rather than resorting to attacking my opponent, I was willing to let voters look at my record and let them decide for themselves whether I deserved the opportunity to continue to serve them.

"I am grateful for their support and humbled by their confidence in me."

Ernst proposed, among other things, eliminating the city comptroller's position, an appointed job, and merging it with the treasurer's post, which is elected. He claimed the move would save the city between $70,000 to $75,000 a year.

The city's current comptroller, Ann Scott, also serves as the city's purchasing director. During the campaign, Ernst said a new purchasing director might have to be hired if the offices were combined, reducing any potential savings.

Ernst also said he wanted to be more of a "watchdog."

"The treasurer's office is one that doesn't have a lot of glamour with it," he said. "Evidently, the people didn't think that what I wanted to do in the treasurer's office was what the treasurer is supposed to do. (The office) needs to be expanded. The treasurer needs to take a more active role."

Both candidates talked about bringing an easier form of online bill pay to the office. Crim said she has been looking into that move since 2001, but the necessary software has not become affordable enough for the city, which has been holding the line on expenses in recent years.

"When technology changes, we'll try to keep up with it," she said. "The latest thing we did was the local debt recovery program. We've been working on it and trying to get it up and running with the state. That will allow us to collect more money through tax refunds and that type of thing.

"We will keep doing all of that type of technology that we can."

Ernst said he has confidence in the treasurer's office going into the future.

"(Crim) has run a good office," he said. "The girls in that office and Peggy do a fantastic job. Peggy will do what she feels she needs to do."

Ernst, who made an unsuccessful bid for Illinois Senate in 2004, said he plans to remain on the Quincy Park Board. He has two years left in his current term. He didn't know whether he would run for office again.

"It took me eight years from my last campaign run (to run again)," he said. "Whether it takes me eight years or what, I don't know. That's something my family I will talk about in the months to come."