Galesburg gets new mayor with John Pritchard

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There's a new mayor on the way for Galesburg. That's after businessman John Pritchard defeated incumbent Sal Garza by nearly a thousand-vote margin on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, it's business as usual for Mayor-elect Pritchard. He's back on the job at Galesburg Broadcasting Company.

But while he runs this family business of 10 radio stations, it's hardly business as usual for Galesburg. Newspaper headlines reveal the new era in local politics.

"Galesburg's population is continuing to decline," Pritchard said. "Our employment numbers have continued to decline, and we have to reverse this."

Just hours after winning the race, e-mails and balloons offer congratulations. But Pritchard knows it's a challenge. Reversing that decade-long downturn will take teamwork and a strong council-manager government.

"Getting everybody on board and going in a direction that we can get as many people to buy into as possible," he said.

And as a broadcasting executive, Pritchard knows a lot about communication. It's just the kind of connection he hopes to make at Galesburg City Hall.

There's hope that defined roles will improve the city's image and perception by developers.

"We're just headed in the wrong direction," he said. "We need to turn that around."

That means encouraging existing small businesses and attracting new ones.

"We're going to have to inch our way out of this slowly but steady," he said.

As for the future, it means making the most of Galesburg's tremendous talents.

"I think we have heart," he concluded. "I think we're going to succeed in moving things forward."

Hope for his hometown as Mayor-elect Pritchard prepares to take office on May 6.