“Living nightmare”: Citizens come before Quincy City Council to ask what can be done about Jason Priest

JASON PRIEST-edit

Jason Priest sits on a bench at 18th and Broadway in Quincy with a homemade sign with a vulgarity on it that MRN edited out. - Submitted photo

QUINCY — With only eight of 14 aldermen present at Tuesday night’s Quincy City Council meeting, most issues on the agenda were tabled.

But three public speakers came before the council to talk about what goes on at the house of Jason Priest in the 2300 block of State.

There have been two fatalities from overdose at Priest’s home since July 2021. One victim’s mother, Gina Veneris, spoke about her son, Howie, who died there last year.

She asked “What will it take to do something?” as a friend held a large picture of her son and showed it to the aldermen and large audience in attendance.

“My son’s body laid there for 12-plus hours alone in Mr. Priest’s house,” Veneris said. “He told police my son wasn’t there. That was a lie…These (deaths and overdoses) could’ve been prevented. What will it take so another young person’s life isn’t lost in vain?”

Denise Wilkey lives next door to Priest on State Street. She described people coming and going at all hours, yelling and screaming, fighting and Priest loudly taking out his trash at 2:30 a.m.

“Since he’s moved in , it’s been a living nightmare,” Wilkey said. “It was a great neighborhood. I love my neighbors, but I can’t find it in my heart to love Jason, and that saddens me. Please see that something is done.”

Matt Sanders chastised the aldermen for their “lack of empathy” regarding the Priest situation.

“I assume the majority of you have kids,” he said. “I’m just willing to bet that if any of your kids went to and died at Jason Priest’s, house he wouldn’t be allowed to come in and say the things that he does. That’s pretty abhorrent from a City Council.”

Priest had an outburst at last week’s City Council meeting that cause his removal from the chambers when he used a racial slur. He has addressed the council many times over the last year, usually attired in women’s clothing or simply in undergarments.

Jason Priest at the May 23 Quincy City Council meeting.

He was not in attendance at Tuesday night’s meeting.

Matt Sanders chastised the aldermen in attendance

Alderman Jack Holtschlag (D-7th Ward) had Interim Police Chief Adam Yates come before the council to respond to the complaints.

“Is there anything we can do to help these people out? They are just begging…,” Holtschlag asked.

Yates said there are statutes that “handcuff” QPD when it comes to “certain things” regarding the overdoses.

“We are aware of the issues and we respond every time we can,” Yates said. “There are investigations underway and we will reach out to all neighbors to make sure their concerns are addressed.”

The absent aldermen were: Eric Entrup (R-1st Ward), Mike Farha (R-4th Ward), Tony Sassen (R-4th Ward), Mike Rein (R-5th Ward), John Mast (R-5th Ward) and Richie Reis (D-6th Ward). 

In other inaction, the City Council tabled the following:

  • A vote on a special permit request from Shottenkirk Chevrolet, 1537 N. 24th. The car dealership wanted to increase the number of overhead doors as a limit of four doors was a condition of their expansion in 1993. The company installed two more doors, despite the city requesting a review by the Plan Commission first. The Plan Commission recommended a denial of the permit.
  • A resolution to create a guideline for non-union employee reviews.
  • An ordinance to create the public works director position.

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