Keiser to resign from County Board, move to Springfield


Gayle Keiser has announced her intention to resign from the Knox County Board effective with the conclusion of the July 27th Board meeting. She has accepted a full-time position as the Executive Director of the Illinois Stewardship Alliance in Rochester, located southeast of Springfield.

Keiser is a Democrat serving County Board District 2, which encompasses the northeast sector of the City of Galesburg. First elected to the Board in 1990, she was re-elected in 1992, 1996, 2000 and 2002. Her current term expires in December 2006. The remainder of that term will be served by a member appointed by the Chairman of the Board Jan Occhi at the recommendation of the Democratic Precinct committeemen in District 2.

As the Executive Director of the Illinois Stewardship Alliance (ISA), Keiser will lobby issues in the Illinois General Assembly and in both Houses of Congress in Washington, D.C. “It’s exciting to go back to Washington and Springfield to help design sound legislation in the public interest,” Keiser stated.

“Food safety and farming practices that protect the environment are right in the center of the action these days. This is a very exciting transition for me, and I look forward to the challenge. I particularly appreciate the faith the members of the ISA Board have placed in me,” Keiser said.

Margaret Mitchell of Galesburg currently serves on the ISA Board along with 11 other members from across the state. The outgoing Executive Director is Mark Beorkrem who resided in Galesburg until 1995. Beorkrem will continue on the ISA Board after turning the position over to Keiser effective August 1st.

ISA is a citizen’s organization that promotes a safe and nutritious food supply, family farming and healthy rural communities and advocates diverse, humane, socially-just and ecologically sustainable production practices. The group was founded in 1974 as a statewide membership organization named the Illinois South Project.    

As a County Board member, Keiser joined ISA efforts to oppose strip mining of prime farmland in Salem Township and opposing the construction of the mega hog farm near Williamsfield.

She was active in the founding of the Knox County Health Department and benn an ardent supporter of the Knox County Nursing Home.

Keiser has served on a variety of area volunteer boards and commissions.

Keiser’s political career locally has not been without controversy. Over the years, she has feuded with her fellow board members and Sheriffs of both parties. She has faced primary opposition from within her own party when striving for election to higher office. In the general elections for County Board she has consistently been a top vote-getter.

Keiser came to Galesburg from Eugene, Oregon where she attended graduate school at the University of Oregon. In August of 1980, she joined the Knox College Faculty in the Political Science Department. She accepted a position as the Legislative Director of Common Cause/Illinois in December of 1984, and she lobbied for that organization in the Illinois General Assembly and in the United Stated Congress. 

Appointed to the position of Executive Director for Common Cause/Illinois in April of 1987, Keiser served in that position until she opened Prairie Peacock on S. Seminary St. in August of 1988. She managed the American artcraft retail and custom framing shop for over 12 years until she closed it  in February 2001. Most recently, she has worked as a grant writer for Western Illinois Regional Council in Macomb, taught part-time at Monmouth College and done free-lance writing for The Paper and The Zephyr in Galesburg. 

She has spent the last several years working on a book about events and people surrounding a real-life tragedy in Galesburg and she expects to continue to pursue that project.

Keiser will be moving to the Springfield-area in the near future. She was born and raised in Fremont, Ohio. She graduated from Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., and received a masters in political science from University of Missouri-Columbia. She received a Ph.D in political science from the University of Oregon in Eugene.

Keiser currently resides on N. Prairie St. in Galesburg. “After living in Galesburg for 25 years, it will be very difficult to leave behind many good friends. But Springfield isn’t that far, and I promise I’ll be back from time to time,” Keiser stated.