City in Mourning: Councilman Sandberg dead at 65

By Audrey Wise

July 20, 2013 Updated Jul 22, 2013 at 11:10 AM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- Peoria authorities confirm Saturday that the body found at City Councilman Gary Sandberg's home is in fact Sandberg's. Coroner Johnna Ingersoll said he likely died of heart disease.

Ingersoll said authorities are also taking *heat stress* into consideration, since Sandberg was found in his apartment, with no air conditioning running.

Now, many in the city he called home, are remembering his life and legacy.

"You're missing not only a colleague, but a friend," said fellow at-large city councilman Eric Turner.

Councilmembers are mourning the loss of Sandberg and said his death comes as a complete shock.

Sandberg was the Peoria City Inspections Director for 11 years before making the transition to public life in 1989 when he was elected second district councilman.

He was re-elected repeatedly until 1997 when he ran successfully for at-large councilman.

Earlier this year, he unsuccessfully launched an attempt to be elected in the first district, moving to the building where the body was found Friday afternoon.

He lost in the election to Denise Moore, but retained his at-large city council seat.

Sandberg was often a lone vote on the council issues, arguing for a leaner government, and in favor of city services.

"I think that was his rallying cry, and that's what they will miss now hearing someone rally for basic services," said Councilmember Moore.

Sandberg underwent aortic valve replacement surgery at the Mayo Clinic in 2010.

Councilman Turner said he last saw Sandberg after the last city council meeting July 9th.

Turner has served with Sandberg for 18 years on council.

"I don't think there has ever been anyone ever that's served on the council to date, or that will probably ever serve, that will have that type and that depth of institutional knowledge," said Turner.

Turner calls Sandberg a good guy and a true friend, a person to be missed by the entire community.

"Gary loves this city, he really loves this city. I always said that he might not be on the right side of the issue, but he loved this city and would do anything for the people that live in this city and he supported this city day in and day out," said Turner.

Sandberg was 65 years old.

The Peoria County Coroner says toxicology tests will also be performed.

Gary Sandberg is survived by two children.