GALESBURG – Kyle Rohweder plays many roles in Galesburg. He’s a grassroots punk rocker, small business owner, and member of the Knox County Board of Directors. In 2023, he hopes to take on another title, that of municipal councilor.
The owner of Glory Days barbershop announced via Facebook his intention to run for Ward 3 city council seat in 2023, defying perhaps the most controversial member of the Galesburg County board of directors.
Lindsay Hillery, a current ward council member, has suffered three arrests this year and is currently facing potential felony charges. If she is found guilty, it could remove her from her seat.
Either way, Rohweder says he intends to run for the job in 2023. He says his experience on the county council, after serving four years and six months, will allow him to launch as a member of the board.
Rohweder is a member of the 708 Mental Health Board and served on the Galesburg Public Arts Council. He is also a singer in the hardcore punk band Bull Cult and has a long history in music.
Living on Brooks Street for some time now, he has set his sights on the area council seat.
The Southeastern neighborhood has a proud history, says Rohweder, and he hopes to help give it new life.
“The neighborhood in particular was sort of a dominant economic force during Galesburg’s heyday, largely because so many homes in these neighborhoods were developed for railroad workers,” he said.
Yet over time the railway workers dispersed to Galesburg and Knox County.
Rohweder says his candidacy announcement has now come from his own proactive approach and civic engagement. When asked if the situation with Hillery had motivated his announcement, he answered yes and no.
“Yes in the sense that someone will need to run for her vacant post, if she chooses not to run in 2023,” he said.
He said he understands there is a public outcry asking her to resign due to the accusations against her, but he has mixed feelings about whether or not she should resign, acknowledging that he has his own personal history of not always being “a shining example” of upholding social norms, being a “punk rock dude” and activist.
“I at least believe that my own disobedience is a little more targeted and a little less socially damaging,” he said.
Hillery’s arrests this year have resulted in charges of aggravated assault and battery at a Galesburg bar, possession of methamphetamine, breach of bail and dropping domestic assault and battery charges.
Rohweder says he is a pacifist and subscriber to the “righteous” lifestyle without drugs and alcohol.
“I hope (Hillery) will accept any help she can get because she deserves it,” he said.
He said he also hopes she will not be charged as a felon for drug possession, as he is an advocate for the deferred prosecution program that Knox County State Attorney Jeremy Karlin has used in the county since his election.
If Hillery’s place is released, the process to fill it would be managed by the mayor, who would present a candidate who would then be voted on by council.
If Hillery resigns, Rohweder has said he will be open to being appointed to the post.
What would Rohweder bring to the board? He said his understanding of municipal finances is one thing, and being a small business owner, he said, puts him more in touch with the interests of city workers. He says another thing about him is his own civic engagement.
“I tend to be the first to volunteer,” he said.
The 2023 council election is a long way off, so Rohweder’s reach so far has been limited, in addition to speaking with neighborhood members while walking his Australian Shepherds.
As a board member, he said he would be a strong advocate for Galesburg’s parks and recreation area and would work to improve communication and transparency on the town side.
Moving to Galesburg from Oneida, Rohweder says he has already shared a concern of many people who come to his store that there is nothing for young people to do in Galesburg. Now he says he has realized that there is a lot for kids to do, but it is not always communicated effectively.
He says he also wants to be accessible. Hillery has been a hard-to-reach council member for voters and the media, and Rohweder says being accessible is important to him, as is the development of parts of town that have been overlooked.
“I want good parks. I want people to have jobs, and I want people to create their own jobs, ”he said.