After serving the City of Vandalia as mayor for the past 22 years, many Vandalia voters next Tuesday will be surprised to see Mayor Ramon Barnes’ name not on the ballot. Barnes, who also served eight years prior to becoming mayor as an alderman, has decided to not run for another term. At the time he took over as mayor he was also serving as Vandalia’s Fire Chief.
“It seemed like the right time,” Barnes said about stepping aside. “I’m no spring chicken now.”
In reflecting on his many years of service, Mayor Barnes said he’s proud of the city’s many accomplishments during his tenure.
One item he quickly pointed to is the addition of the women’s prison, WERDCC, in the ‘90s.
“At the time, the brick plants had already started slowing way down,” he said. “…The prison ensured Vandalia would be here another 50-60 years and has offered a lot of jobs.”
Another addition was the Vandalia Area Aquatics Center. He reflected on the time when the Vandalia Recreation Corporation asked the city to maintain the upkeep of the old pool, that was 40 years old at the time.
He said engineers mentioned it would cost more to repair it. This led to a bond measure that was later passed.
“I was pleasantly surprised with the margin the sales tax passed by,” he added.
Mayor Barnes said he’s going to miss the people at City Hall and the aldermen he’s worked with through the years.
“We have a really good group of people in both positions now,” Mayor Barnes added.
“His experience in the community managing change has been invaluable in helping the organization move forward,” said City Administrator Alan Winders.
“During my time with the Vandalia Police Department as the chief of police I have had the privilege of working with Mayor Ramon Barnes,” said Vandalia Police Chief Tony Laird. “It quickly became apparent to me that Mayor Barnes deeply cares for the community of Vandalia and was committed to doing his best to help the community in any way he could. I have always found Mayor Barnes to being very giving of his time, to be able to keep himself current on issues affecting the community, to be open to new ideas and he has always been very good at listening to people when they express their concerns or opinions about anything affecting the community. It has been both a privilege and a pleasure to have worked with Mayor Barnes. I will miss having him as the City Mayor, but hope he enjoys his well deserved retirement.”
(The Vandalia Leader will provide more coverage on Mayor Barnes and his service to the community in future issues.)