Occupation: Biology professor at Millikin University
Have you ever held an elected office? I was elected to the Decatur City Council to serve a four-year term from May 2017-April 2021.
Why are you seeking a seat on the Decatur City Council? I am running for reelection because I care deeply about the well-being of the 70,000 residents that live here. I want to see a city that is more livable, vibrant, healthy, and safe. I am proud of the assistance that I have provided to Decatur residents the last four years and honored to work collaboratively with my colleagues on the council to make Decatur better.
What attributes do you possess that will make a good council member? As a city council member for the past four years, I am trusted to be transparent, accessible, data-driven, evidence-based, open minded, and an independent voice. I am purposeful and deliberate, cooperative and collaborative, and kind and caring. Through social media, I provide timely information on topics to be discussed at council meetings and my views on city issues. I am responsive to concerns, I have a listening ear, and I can always be reached at (217) 358-5003 and email@example.com.
The city council may be asked to make some serious decisions when it comes to the city budget, which has been severely impacted by COVID-19. What cuts are you willing to consider? I am open-minded and will at least consider all cuts that are not in opposition to state and federal laws and requirements. However, the city cannot cut itself to prosperity. It must find new revenue sources by supporting current residents and businesses and attracting new ones. This can be accomplished through economic incentives, such as the ones that I and others on the council have consistently supported for both large companies and small businesses. In addition, we should allow new types of businesses to operate in Decatur. I was the only council member to vote for a cannabis dispensary and I am also supportive of other cannabis-related businesses such as a cultivation center. There are also some reductions in spending that can be achieved particularly in land management. The city currently spends hundreds of thousands of dollars annually mowing vacant lots. There are more effective, lower cost solutions such as urban agriculture that could feed people in need, provide jobs, and reduce city expenses.
What cuts are off the table? I will not consider any cuts to the budget that are in opposition to state and federal laws and requirements. I have consistently opposed cuts to public safety. For example, I voted against cutting seven police officer positions and two firefighter positions from the 2020 budget. In addition, I expressed strong opposition to the city’s proposal to temporarily suspend firefighting operations from Station 1 and continue to be concerned about the city’s lack of fire inspectors and investigators. I would be extremely hesitant to cut funding from the Economic and Community Development Department. More than any other department within city operations, the investments this department makes in people have the best chance to reverse our most significant challenges including population decline, high unemployment, high poverty, and low median income.
What are the top three issues you want to see addressed once you are elected? Currently, and after, I am re-elected, my top three priorities are public safety, job creation, and neighborhood revitalization. As Decatur recovers and overcomes the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, it will be essential to protect public health, provide help to those in need, and restore jobs that have been lost.
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