- Associated Press - Friday, July 17, 2015

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) - Decatur Mayor Mike McElroy died Friday after suffering what police said appeared to be some kind of medical emergency while driving. He was 63.

McElroy died at a hospital after a single-vehicle crash about 7:45 a.m., police Chief Bradley Sweeney said. Witnesses told police the mayor appeared to have had some kind of medical problem and drove through a red light, Sweeney said. McElroy’s death remains under investigation.

McElroy, who went by the nickname “Tuna,” was in his second term as mayor. Gov. Bruce Rauner, a fellow Republican, remembered him as a “champion for the city of Decatur.”

“His passion for the community was infectious - he loved working for the people of Decatur,” Rauner said in a news release.

Republican U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, who is from Taylorville, about 30 miles southwest of Decatur, said in a news release that he has known McElroy “for years and his love for Decatur was second to none.”

McElroy was first elected mayor in 2009 and had served on the City Council since 2003. He also ran for the state Senate, losing to Sen. Andy Manar in 2012.

City Manager Billy Tyus credited McElroy for work happening on Lake Decatur to improve the local water supply, a longtime issue in a city that relies on big industrial water users such as Archer Daniels Midland Inc. and Caterpillar Inc. for much of its job base, and with helping push to build the new police station that opened last year.

But Tyus said McElroy will be remembered more for his personality and love of the blue-collar city of 76,000 than any particular project he worked on.

“He’d never met a stranger. You hear that phrase a lot, but it was really true of him,” Tyus said. “He made you feel at ease.”

Mayor Pro Tem Julie Moore-Wolfe will take over as interim mayor, Tyus said. The council has 60 days to select a successor to serve the remainder of McElroy’s term.

McElroy also was vice president of Skeff Distributing Co. in Decatur, according to the city.

He is survived by his wife, Lynn, and one son. Funeral arrangements are pending.

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