Tenants against new Alexander County housing authority director

After a year of turmoil, including investigations into spending, the Alexander County, Illinois, Housing Authority has a new director.

Sesser Mayor Jason Ashmore was approved by a 3-0 vote.

Two members of the board didn’t show up for the meeting, which lasted only a few minutes. That caused a lot of anger among the crowd, which directed their outrage at the new director.

“We don’t want you!" shouted members of the audience.

Ashmore tried to address the angry crowd Tuesday after he was approved to run the Alexander County Housing Authority.

“You got it because of politics, not because you are more qualified," said Phillip Matthews.

After years of mismanagement, Ashmore says he understands why the crowd is skeptical.

"Everyone down here has a lot of concern, and that’s understandable. And I would too. I do have concerns," said Ashmore.

"He has no idea the concept of dealing with minorities," said Matthews.

"He’s stepping in something he doesn’t have business stepping into,” said Paul Lambert.  “He’s interfering with our problems. He’s not from this area. He doesn’t know anything about our problems."

As Ashmore takes over as executive director he says his first goal is cleaning up safety issues around the housing authority.

"That’s a travesty,” said Ashmore. “No one deserves to live that way."

Questions still remain about federal funding if the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development ultimately rejects Ashmore’s hiring.

"HUD probably anticipated that they would do something as foolish as that,” said Matthews. “I’m sure they have a plan in place should that occur."

"He’s just in it for a check,” said Lambert. “He’s going to get paid, and he’s going to carry the money back up to Sesser. No revenue is generated here."

In order to protect the tenants, Ashmore says he would resign if HUD pulls its help.

Ashmore unofficially started the job Tuesday despite the fact he doesn’t have a signed contract.

Housing Authority Board Chairman Andy Clarke says they hopes to iron out the final details of that deal next week.

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