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Meet Decatur City Council candidate William Wetzel

From the Meet the candidates running for Decatur City Council series
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William Wetzel

Age: 35

Occupation: Information technology support technician

Have you ever held an elected office? No

Why are you seeking a seat on the Decatur City Council? I am seeking a seat on council because I have faith in Decatur and want to help make Decatur a better place for everyone — people, families, and businesses. This means doing everything possible to provide the best quality of life for the people of Decatur and the best economic opportunities for everyone. I will meet people where they are, listen to their needs and wants, and put their needs and the needs of the community first.

What attributes do you possess that will make you a good council member? Vision and Inclusion — I am willing to try new things, invest the time and work to make ideas happen, and take responsibility in meeting the needs of the people of Decatur. My drive to be elected to city council is not about power or higher office. It is to make Decatur successful as a community and that all people of Decatur feel that they have a voice and can take part in a better future of our city. Engagement — The job of a city council member is to represent everyone and make decisions that benefit the highest number of people. No matter where they live or work, each member of the council represents the entire population of approximately 70,000 people. This is a daunting task and often our elected officials take the time to listen to everyone, not just the people close to them. Beyond council meetings, it is important to be out in the community listening to the needs and wants of a diverse group of people. Ready to put in the work.

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Being on City Council is more than just showing up to meetings and press events. There is a significant amount of work that includes learning how a city works, engaging with citizens, businesses, and advocacy groups, and investing time to learn about the issues facing our citizens. I am ready to do this work

Commitment - I grew up in Decatur, went to school here, have friends and family here. We chose to return to Decatur about 4 years ago because we see the goodness and potential of this community. This is my hometown.

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? What cuts are off the table?

This will be one of the biggest challenges for council and Decatur as a whole. Any cuts or changes should be driven by a data-based approach that factors in long-term impacts to all segment of the community. Priorities should include health and safety including securing our water supply, keeping our neighborhoods safe, and maintaining the infrastructure that supports our economy. While cuts may be inevitable, it is also important to look at new and alternative operational approaches to achieve economies without cutting services.

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

1. Economic and population decline. According the to the US Census Bureau, Decatur IL has shrunk from 94,000 in 1980 to 69,550 in 2019. That is 25% of our population. If we continue to shrink at the same pace from 2010-2019, 0.71% per year, by 2030, our population will be approximately 65,000. At the same time the City’s liabilities continue to grow while the tax base shrinks.

• There must be a long term comprehensive plan for the City of Decatur that does not tie its future and success exclusively to large manufacturing. While will continue to be the economic heart, diversity will be the key to long term success. We can address this by recruiting companies with good paying manufacturing, agribusiness, and technology jobs. This includes ending the prohibition on cannabis-based-businesses.

• We must also encourage entrepreneurship in small and micro-businesses. When it comes to economic opportunities, nothing should be off the table, including the operation of legal cannabis-based-businesses and other non-traditional business.

2. Expanding Neighborhood Revitalization - The City can be a leader in helping to bring non-profit organizations, State and Federal Funds, private funders, other governmental agencies, and the people who live in the neighborhoods together. This means developing an inclusive and holistic approach that goes beyond just fixing infrastructure and tearing down houses. The “top down” approach needs to be replaced by an “across the board” strategy that does not leave the affected members of the community out of the planning process.

3. City council must change its rules and practices to engage and seek the participation of community members. A first step is to return to allowing its constituents to speak to agenda items. Council must also reduce the number of council members it takes to place an item on the agenda from four to two to allow new ideas to be heard and considered. It is important that the greatest number of people in the community participate in leadership.

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