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Two Collinsville women find public service rewarding

The town of Collinsville has a five-member city council. Donna Jones represents District 2 and has for the past three years. She has one year left in her first term on the council, and she plans to run for re-election next year. Janet Osborne has represented District 4 for three terms and also plans to run again.

Jones, a local English teacher, moved to Collinsville after marrying her husband, Frank. “This is my husband’s hometown,” she said.

Jones said of her decision to get involved in local politics, “I’ve always had an interest in local, state, and national government. It’s always intrigued me.” As a teacher, she discusses different town issues in her class, encouraging her students to get involved and come to meetings when they can.

Jones said she has enjoyed her time on the council so far. “We’re a small town, however, we are thriving. It’s been a very rewarding experience.”

Since serving on council, Jones said she is most excited to see the development of two city softball fields for youth softball begin to develop. She said that she is elated about the fields because they will encourage “positive extracurricular activity.”

Besides the softball development, Jones is proud of the transparency of the council and its openness to constituents. “We have a pretty good rapport with the community,” Jones said.

“I’m very proud of that.”

Osborne agreed that the new softball fields will mean a lot to the town. Past youth softball teams have won state titles but were not able to play in Collinsville. “My granddaughter is 24, and she never got to play softball in her hometown because we didn’t have fields,” Osborne said.

Osborne’s involvement in local politics began long before she ran for city council.

She would attend the meetings and advocate for better parks for the town – a cause she still pushes for today. “I want the beautification of the parks. I want them to look inviting,” she said.

One way she helps achieves these goals is through raising funds. “I try to be very active in fundraising,” said Osborne. She created the Duck Race, now in its ninth year, that helps benefit Parks and Recreation of Collinsville.

Osborne decided to run for office when she saw a problem that needed to be fixed. “I was at a meeting one night, and I didn’t really like what I heard.  So, I thought I’m going to run. I’m going to change this.”

As a woman in local government, Osborne said she would like to see more women take the reins. “I would love to see more women in politics. I really would. I want to see more females actively involved in things because we’ve got some good ideas, and we need to put them into action,” she said.

Osborne also encourages all citizens, especially young people, to volunteer. “Everybody’s got time to volunteer a little while,” she said.

“If you see something, instead of complaining about, say how can I help you fix it. Don’t just be the ones that complain. If we encourage our youth to do that, I think we’ll see a lot of progress down the road,” Osborne said.

Osborne and Jones are not the first women to be on the Collinsville City Council, and both agreed they haven’t faced many issues based on their gender.

The council meets the first and third Monday of the month at 6 p.m. at the Town Hall.