Candidate for Bloomington mayor
Profession: Political Science Professor / Former McLean County Board Member
Family: Two sons: Max, 20, and Alex, 16
Previous Positions: McLean County Board (elected to three terms - 1998, 2002, 2006 -served until 2010), Mayoral candidate in 2009 - lost by 15 votes to incumbent Steve Stockton, Director of Research for the International City/County Management Association - 1986-1988, Professor Duquesne University - 1989-1994, Professor Washington College - 1982-1986, Management Analyst for EPA (1980-1982), F.B.I. Research Clerk (1978)
Time on McLean County Board: 12 years
All governments need to constantly evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of their policies and service delivery. However, when I worked for the International City/County Management Association back in the 1980's, we conducted the first national survey of 'contracting out' local government services (that's what managed competition was called back then).
Many cities regretted contracting out services such as trash collection. Either they didn't save money or they lost control over the quality of the service delivery. That's why we should proceed very carefully as we consider contracting out. I oppose the current proposed city policy because it puts every employees job at risk of being contracted out every year. That's not good public policy and it's bad for morale.
Downtown Bloomington is our historic core and we need to continue to pursue revitalization. We have to understand its unique position in our community. There are no major cities in this country where the downtown is decaying but the city economy is thriving. I would like to encourage a private company to build a hotel across from the Coliseum. It would help reduce the red ink in the coliseum by attracting more conferences and performances and it would serve as an economic 'anchor' in South Downtown. Capital investment in a hotel will attract other capital investments in light retail and other businesses.
I want Bloomington to have an open and responsive city government where we regularly listen to citizens in bi-monthly mayoral open houses, quarterly town hall style meetings in the neighborhoods, and where citizens have easy access to all public documents because they
are automatically scanned and posted on the Internet (no or few Freedom of Information Act
forms will be necessary). Further, I want to see our older neighborhoods and Downtown revitalized. I want us to get more than our share of the jobs and recovery as the economy improves. We need to leverage our considerable assets into improving our economy. We are the fastest growing metropolitan area in Downstate Illinois, we have the best trained work force, the highest education level, the highest income level, the lowest crime rate and our strategic location (we are the only one of Central Illinois' five metro areas that is within an hour of all of the others).
Yes, in order to accomplish much of what I've mentioned above in numbers 2 and 3, we may need to offer economic incentives in order to attract businesses to particular locations that we believe are in the broader good of the city (Downtown, blighted neighborhoods, Colonial Plaza, Lakewood Plaza, etc.).
We need to keep our bond ratings high and our city's finances stable. In order to do this, we must adequately fund our police and fire pensions. If we can grow the local economy in the ways I've mentioned above (attract a hotel across from the Coliseum, encouraging new businesses to expend, etc.), then our revenues will increase (reduced red ink in the Coliseum, more sales tax and hotel and motel tax revenues, etc.) and will have more money to invest in our infrastructure and pensions.
We should also stop spending so much money on outside consultants to conduct studies of almost everything. We have local universities and local talent that we should tap into first (and at low to no cost) before hiring consultants from throughout the country.