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Meet Decatur City Council candidate Marty Watkins

From the Meet the candidates running for Decatur City Council series
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Marty Watkins

Age: 58

Occupation: Retired U.S. Army

Have you ever held and elected office? No

Why are you seeking a seat on the Decatur City Council? I am seeking the city council seat to help carry out the vision and direction for our city and to help implement rules which guide our daily life in the community, this also includes the capital financing and strategic planning for the city. I also want to help bridge the gap between the city council, law enforcement and the citizens. We must all work together. I am seeking the seat because I want to focus on enhancing the quality of life for our community by looking at the needs, problems, and assets of the entire city. I am seeking a seat because the city council has a fiduciary duty to the taxpayers, and I want to unite with them to make sure that the needs of the citizens of our community are met.

What attributes do you possess that will make you a good council member? I believe that transparency is a key component, and I will provide this if elected. I am highly active in serving our community. I believe that my experience sitting on various boards and commissions in our community qualifies and empowers me for the city council position and will allow me to help move our community forward. I have a focused mind when it comes to finances. I have the experience in running a business. I understand that we operate under the council-manager form of government and that in this form of government the mayor and city council hold the ultimate decision-making power. I have the city of Decatur’s best interest at heart. I will continue to support the small businesses in our community.

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? City councils throughout the United states are faced with budget cuts to local services and this is unfortunate at a time when people are facing economic hardship. The city of Peoria had its first round of layoffs. They had to cut 45 positions which included public works, city hall, community development, five fire personnel and eight police personnel. No one wants to talk about budget cuts and budget cuts are a hard subject to talk about. So, I would first like to see if we can explore other avenues before we get into cuts, such as a hiring freeze, no pay raises, reduction in overtime or even offer retirement incentives, not filling vacant positions. I would like to have more information and look at the needs of every department before rendering an answer to the question.

What cuts are off the table? My answer would be Public safety. Through researching various areas there is nothing that shows historically that our law enforcement failed to make our community safer. We do not want to have such a dangerous community that people will take the law into their own hands. We need the police to keep our community safe and secured. The prevention of crimes require that the police and citizens work together, and that they share the responsibilities.

What are the top three issues you want to see addressed once you are elected? The 3 top issues for me would be:

1. Budgeting.We must get control of our spending. When your population declines that means that your tax base declines. We must get control of our finances. Like many other communities our homes are facing declining values from population loss. We are facing sales tax loss because of online sales. Because of the poor job climate that exists in Illinois, people are leaving our city and our state. Taxpayers should not be a windfall for our leaders to turn to every time a crisis appears.

2. Economic Development. We need to bring in new businesses which will increase our tax base. This will allow us to do the things that we need to do. This also affects the downtown area; it affects the entire way that our city functions and our community programs. This is a key component in our city’s development. We also need a well-trained workforce. We must continue to work with workforce development, Economic Development Center, our colleges, and other agencies to ensure that people in our community are trained with skills and qualities necessary to enter the job areas.

3. Community Safety. Decatur police statistics shows that from 2015 to Oct 2020, they had to respond to approximately 46 homicides and 534 shootings. Our law enforcement is paid to serve and protect. They have spent countless hours combing the streets for gun casings. I want our citizens to know that the officers have the ability and authority to act on the concerns and priorities of the residents, at the same time we want to make the citizens aware that they play a critical role in crime control. The “City of Decatur City Council Policies”, the Use and Purpose of City Council Policies (February 3, 2020) states, “the Decatur City council has a broad mandate to provide good government, develop and maintain a safe and viable community.” I believe that a happier neighborhood brings about happier citizens. Again, we must all work together. We want to make our community a place where people want to live, work and play.


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