Uncontested candidates eager to continue serving Riley County

(Illustration by Kaylie McLaughlin | Collegian Media Group)

This Election Day, voters in Riley County will cast their votes for several uncontested candidates.

Shilo Heger, running unopposed for reelection as the Riley County Treasurer, said though she’s not competing for her position, she wants the public to know she has its best interests at heart.

“I feel sometimes that people don’t know really who the County Treasurer is,” Heger said. “It’s an important role.”

As treasurer for the past six years, Heger is responsible for Riley County’s revenue, as well as registering and titling vehicles. She took the job in 2014 when former treasurer Eileen King retired before her term ended.

“It was never something I was interested in, but Eileen saw something in me,” Heger said. “She started taking me to meetings with her and showing me how things worked.”

Heger runs unopposed each year.

Barry Wilkerson only faced one competitor in 16 years serving as the Riley County Attorney. After he was elected over his opponent in 2004, Wilkerson said he’s used unopposed election cycles to continue his work rather than campaign.

“When I had opposition, I was going door to door, running ads, sending out flyers, raising money,” he said. “While I run unopposed, I left that time to do my job.”

Wilkerson said he takes pride in fulfilling his responsibilities as County Attorney. Reviewing police reports, filing charges and prosecuting “everything from traffic cases to capital murder cases” are aspects of the job he said are essential for the health of the community.

“I don’t want to ever give people the impression that I like sending people to prison … but helping get justice for the victims of crimes is what makes it satisfying,” Wilkerson said.

Heger shares Wilkerson’s passion for serving the public, even in a completely different department.

“I’m not a real political person, that part I do struggle with,” Heger said. “But just being able to serve the public has been very rewarding, and I hope to continue doing it, at least until I have to retire.”

Though she didn’t hold an elected position until 2014, Heger began working for the county in 2004 as a tax and accounting supervisor. Heger said her favorite part of the job was learning about her local government.

“It was kind of fun because as I started working here, I’d tagged vehicles, but I didn’t really know how all that worked,” she said. “I owned a home, but I didn’t know how all the intricacies of property taxes worked. I found it very interesting.”

Though Heger has never had to campaign for her position, she said she’s always prepared to.

“When I ran the first time, people didn’t really know who I was, so running unopposed, I still wanted people to get to know who I am,” Heger said.

This year, Heger hoped to attend events and parades like in years past, but the pandemic threw a wrench in those plans. Without normal, in-person events, Heger said attending functions for elected officials and keeping in contact with the public is vital.

“I just want people to know who they’d need to go to with questions about their real estate taxes, bills, how to register a vehicle and I’m always open to listening to people if they have suggestions or things they’d like to see done differently,” Heger said. “I want people to know I’m here and available to help wherever I can.”