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Written by on March 28, 2021

BLOOMINGTON, Ill.- A member of the Bloomington Planning Commission is putting her best foot forward to run for Ward 3.

Over twenty years ago, Sheila Montney moved to Bloomington by herself with only her dogs to keep her company, and she has never looked back.

Originally from a small town in Arkansas, Montney grew up with parents who divorced when she was in elementary school. Her mother met her dad at a young age when he was a migrant worker in Rochelle, Illinois. He had only received a 5th-grade education and moved back to his home state of Arkansas with her mother. Around the time of her parent’s divorce, her mother, at forty years old, went to college for the first time at Arkansas State University. May be an image of 1 person, hair and outerwear

Despite her parents’ less traditional education route, Montney excelled in her education. She was able to test out of high school early to begin her college degree in Denton, Texas at what is now known as the University of North Texas.

“So, I didn’t actually finish high school,” Montney said. “Graduating college was very important to me.”

Montney studied English Composition and Language Studies. With a connection from her sister, she was able to get a job working for State Farm Insurance.

“I’ve been with the company for almost 36 years, and that’s taken me to many different locations in the country,” Montney said.

Working for State Farm brought her to Dallas, Atlanta, Jacksonville, Flo., Boston, Memphis, Sacramento and finally, Bloomington. Before coming to Bloomington, Ill. when she lived in Boston, Montney learned of night program for Harvard University.

“This program allowed me to actually become a degree candidate if a professor sponsored me,” said Montney. “I met a wonderful professor at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, who agreed to sponsor me for a masters program.”

While working full time, Montney earned a Masters Degree in Government from Harvard University in 2001. Years ago her son, who is now a senior in high school, asked how she got out of that small town in Arkansas.

“I told him Jared, education. It’s the social-economic ‘levelizer’ in America. Everybody has the opportunity,” said Montney. “I’ve always felt my life was always about continuous improvement and being the best person you can be.”

During her many years of traveling, Montney said she has always been involved in nonprofits and task forces. She said Bloomington is where she has felt the most at home. She was not expecting to find this community with the ability to have such a great quality of life.

“In Bloomington, I found a home,” she said.

Montney said her love for the city is one of the reasons why she is running for council.

“I care deeply about this community. It would be truly a privilege to serve the people in Ward 3 to help look after what’s great in this community and build on it,” she said.

Montney said she likes to look at the community as an ecosystem, which means everything needs to stay in balance in order for it to thrive. This ecosystem is made up of social issues, supporting local businesses, and supporting businesses through unprecedented times like the pandemic.

“All of these things really work together to enable the quality of life here that we have,” Montney said. “I’m looking to do everything I can to build on those strengths to make it an even better place both to live and work.”