The 52-year-old has been married to Juanita for 15 years and has
four stepchildren and five grandchildren. He currently is serving
his third term on the county board. O'Neill, a lifelong Lincolnite,
resides at 210 N. State St. and works for Pepsi Refreshment Services
as well as the First Student school transportation company.
Addressing the press gathering, he wanted to make this point: "In
the event I am lucky enough to win the election, I want everyone to
know where I am coming from, where I stand."
He said that he had originally planned to wait a few more months
before announcing his candidacy but that recent developments and
people "pursuing" him for an answer on his candidacy caused him to
The recent developments O'Neill was referring to are the quarrels
he has had with city officials over his detailed, publicly released
list of properties around the Logan County Fairgrounds that he
believes are in violation of the city's building codes. He made
specific mention of criticism directed at him by city attorney Bill
Bates, who rebuked the county board member, in O'Neill's words, "to
mind my own business."
"I represent the people of this city too. I am doing my job," he
emphasized. The board member said that the huge number of citizens
who gave him positive feedback on the issue numbered perhaps 400,
and he was continuously fielding questions about running for mayor.
Although O'Neill's 51-point program was not explained in detail,
he did choose to highlight some points he felt were more important
One of the points the candidate wanted to address was salaries.
He said he would seek to make the city attorney a part-time job at
half the current pay and would also attempt to reduce council
meetings by half, reducing the monthly agenda to one work session
and one voting session per month.
He also stated he believes that the city's police, fire
department, and streets and alleys crew are understaffed and their
manpower needs must be addressed.
When asked where funding for such manpower increases might come
from in a cash-strapped city budget, O'Neill stated that he didn't
believe the city should be financially involved in events such as
Heritage Days, to name one.
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He also said he believes it is time for the Lincoln & Logan
County Development Partnership to be self-sufficient, questioning
whether the city, at $25,000 per year, and the county, at $30,000,
should be funding this entity. In a later clarification, he stated
that he believes the question of whether or not city and county tax
money goes to the partnership should be left up to the voters to
decide through a referendum on the ballot.
He also stated he wasn't sure if businesses, as an alternative
source of funds, would support the partnership, since they could be
helping to bring competition into town.
When asked how then the partnership could survive, O'Neill said
he believes there are other sources of funding available for the
organization, including perhaps grants and fundraisers.
When asked whether he believes the mayor's position should be
full time or part time, he said he didn't see a problem with the
current part-time system. O'Neill believes the mayor is currently on
the board or committee of far too many organizations. He said the
mayor should be free of these obligations in order to be able to
have a greater presence in the community at city events.
Believing there is what he defined as "pull" between city and
county officials, O'Neill stated he would encourage council members
to attend county meetings in order to develop a better working
relationship between the two governmental bodies.
Perhaps the candidate's boldest statement was that he intended to
redo all zoning ordinances line by line. As part of those changes,
he would pursue a plan to give three years of property tax relief to
homeowners who fix up their homes and to lower building permits and
increase fines for building violations.
O'Neill wanted it made clear that he does not intend to seek any
political contributions. Rather he recommends that anyone supporting
his candidacy give that money to a local church, school or charity.
This will be his second run at the mayoral post. O'Neill garnered
22 percent of the vote in the 2005 election, which was won by
incumbent Mayor Beth Davis-Kavelman with 47 percent of the total
To date, Davis-Kavelman and Mike Thornton, along with O'Neill,
have announced their candidacy, with county board chairman Dick
Logan expressing his interest in also pursuing the office.
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