Southern Illinois Village Elects First Black President

COLP, Ill. (AP) — Voters in the southern Illinois community of Colp made history last week when they elected a Black woman village president.

The Southern Illinoisan in Carbondale reports Marcella Clark was elected Tuesday with 30 votes, with incumbent Village President Tammy O’Daniell-Howell receiving 16 and challenger Bryan Riekena 11.

Colp is a predominantly white, incorporated village of less than 250. It and the neighboring communities of No. 9 and Dewmaine accepted Black residents when many towns in the region did not allow persons of color to reside within their city limits.

“I think it’s time to have a person of color, and I’ll be the second woman," Clark said. ``I think women should be able to serve in higher positions.”

Clark has served on the Colp Village Board for 15 years, first elected after her husband’s death in 1992. He also served on the village board. She served a term, took some time off, and then ran again.

Clark said she wanted to be village president because she believes the village ``has gone down.”

“I figured I could get in and make it better,” Clark said.

Clark will take office in May. She says among her most important tasks will be encouraging residents to volunteer for projects that help the village.