Students may not know their soon to be new mayor. Councilman Don Monty was appointed the title of interim mayor after Mayor Joel Fritzler’s resignation, effective Feb. 3.
Monty got his bachelor’s degree at California State University, Chico before obtaining a master’s degree from Miami University. He came to Carbondale in 1968 to continue his education with hopes of being a professor of geography.
While here, Monty said he became an angry citizen and decided to talk to Mayor David Keene’s office. They hit it off, and in 1970 Monty switched his graduate assistantship from academic to community development.
“I really liked being in public life,” he said. “An opportunity came up in the mayor’s office to help with a grant application. The grant was going to involve a tremendous amount of the city’s participation in something called Goals for Carbondale. It was funded by the state and the city manager asked me to be the person who was hired to run the program.”
He started working for the city full time in 1971.
“From there I just came up through the city ranks,” he said. “Every position I held I worked with the public and it just became a part of my life. Being that intern for the mayor’s office turned my life from probably being a college professor somewhere to being a longtime public servant.”
He continued his work for the city for 35 years, including stints as the city planner, community development director and assistant city manager.
Monty said his long tenure working with seven different mayors prepared him to fulfill his duty and will define his approach to the job.
“It gives me insights because I know what it takes to get some things done,” he said. “I know how a lot of things that at first glance may look simple but aren’t. I know that you always have to be concerned about the legal ramifications of issues.”
He became a member of the city council in 2011.
Monty said the first item he wanted to address was the city budget. While it is still early and he did not have all the numbers, he did expect some cutbacks.
“Just from a broad brushstroke point of view, if you don’t think there’s going to be a sizeable increase in revenues but you know that there are going to be increases in expenditures, then that tells you it’s going to be a tight budget situation,” he said. “And that’s without getting any details from the finance department.”
Economic development was another area Monty said was important to Carbondale.
“There are varieties of aspects to that,” he said. “One of them clearly is downtown. I don’t think there’s a person on the city council who hasn’t said that one of their priorities is downtown. And I know the city staff has been working hard on downtown.”
While downtown development is important, he emphasized there were other commercial areas of Carbondale that can be rebuilt as well, particularly East Main Street between Wall Street and Lewis Lane. He said he wants Carbondale to be a leader in job creation as well.
“I read different things in the news media where different organizations say Illinois is not a good environment for businesses, that it is not a job-creation friendly state,” he said. “Whether that’s the case or not, we have to do what we can do to increase job opportunities in Carbondale.”