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Meet Decatur City Council candidate John Phillips

Meet Decatur City Council candidate John Phillips

From the Meet the candidates running for Decatur City Council series
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John Phillips

Age: 49

Occupation: Mechanic/garage owner

Have you ever held an elected office? I was elected to represent Region 6 on the national board of the Libertarian Party and am currently serving my second term. Region 6 covers the states of Illinois, Missouri, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

Why are you seeking a seat on the Decatur City Council? We need outside the box thinking on the city council, which does not currently have it, if we are going to turn this city around from the decline it has been in for decades. We cannot use the same thinking from the 80s and expect growth. I have lived here for two decades now, and my family for more. I would like Decatur to become a place that my children will want to come back to and be able to have good careers.

What attributes do you possess that will make you a good council member? Understanding through not just education, but lived experience.

I understand what it is to work long hours and struggle to make it. I understand what it is to have to juggle which bill gets paid. I understand what it is to work every day, come home filthy and exhausted, and still make sure the kids are fed, clothed, and taken care. I understand what it means when a tax increase, no matter how small, can make the difference in how you feed your family. I understand what it means to fight with the government to get benefits that they have promised you. I understand how to balance multi-million dollar budgets, and have done so. I understand how important having good schools is as a parent. I understand how important having jobs of all levels is as a person who has had to look for work. I understand the fight to start your own business and the fight to keep it going. I understand the view of the worker looking up and fighting to get a piece of the pie. I understand the view of the executive trying to keep a company profitable. I understand the economics of scale. I understand that people want to be able to live their lives and do their own thing. I understand that every time the government gets involved in people’s lives they make things worse not better.

I am the kind of person that really can come down to the job site, understand the hard work and commiserate with the aching back, then step into the office and understand the different kind of hard work being done, commiserate with the headache from straining your eyes staring too long at the computer screens, then put on a tie and sit down with the board and understand that too is hard work of yet another kind and the stresses of balancing that budget knowing that no matter what you do, some people are going to be unhappy.

I have the broad base of knowledge to apply logic to problems, the empathy to understand the affects, and the work ethic to drive it home

Most importantly, I understand the importance of integrity, of being honest in your dealings, and doing what you said you would. Those are the qualities that will make me a good representative of the all the people.

The city council may be asked to make some serious decision when it comes to the city budget, which has been severely impacted by COVID-19. What cuts are you willing to consider? Almost anything that does not present a clear danger to our people.

What cuts are off the table? No cuts to contracts with our city employees, unions, and their pensions. Not saying that I will not negotiate new contracts hard, but we cannot come in and break our word after it was given. We must get current on the pensions, not doing so is a time bomb that all across our state keeps getting kicked down the road, and imposing huge burdens on future generations.

What are the top three issues you want to see addressed once you are elected?

1. Getting government out of the way of businesses wanting to start and grow here, yes including cannabis related businesses. Even if I drop any argument about the claimed harms of it, the fact is it is now legal, and if you believe in those harms they are already here. So not allowing those businesses to grow here is just throwing away money, opportunity, and jobs to the surrounding communities. Many of which are good paying jobs. Jobs we badly need, and that are often entry level. Also including burdensome taxes and fees that only get passed on to our citizens anyway.

2. Ending city restrictions, policies and fees that inordinately impact our less well-off citizens and small businesses. Examples include the increase in permit rates at a time we are trying to encourage revitalization, policies that cause those permits to take long times to get, hampering growth, and ordinances that target — even if unintentionally — certain segments of our population, ordinances that are unevenly enforced, handled in the kangaroo “administrative” court, and despite falsehoods told by the city council and staff do end up with people in jail at times.

3. Reopening of lines of communication between the people and the council. More time for public comment not less — at both council meetings and study sessions, easy access to council members for citizens, far more open outgoing communication letting citizens know what is going on and upcoming decisions, more willingness to allow referenda and let the people speak with their votes.

Bonus: Holding the council to their word! Taxes that were supposed to sunset need to sunset, taxes that were promised to be used for one purpose need to be held to that purpose.


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