Macomb aldermen unanimously supported Mayor Mike Inman's appointment of Gayle Carper to fill the vacant city council seat in the Fifth Ward. The seat became available when Clay Hinderliter resigned because he moved out of the city.
Carper has lived in Macomb for 40 years. She is a retired criminal defense attorney and a former Western Illinois University professor of Law Enforcement and Justice Administration. Carper also has plenty of knowledge of how city government operates because her husband Tom served as Macomb’s mayor for a dozen years.
Gayle Carper said she became interested in local government a couple of years ago when she started learning about how a city such as Macomb takes care of the way it looks. She said that became important to her “...because if you don’t have a good looking town, you can’t attract people to it.”
She said she then began looking into the city’s housing codes and yard maintenance requirements. She supports the city’s efforts to secure grants to pay for demolishing homes that are in disrepair and to make improvements to the courthouse square.
She also applauds the city’s hiring of additional code enforcement officers. She thinks they can help ensure homeowners maintain the exterior of houses and rental properties and keep residential yards in good shape.
“And all of those little things are the things that attract new people to Macomb, whether it’s business, whether it is students, whether it’s residents. And we need that. Macomb’s population figures have been going down over the last number of years,” Carper said.
Carper said she would also like to be a part of the city’s efforts to help people in need.
“We have a really high education level in Macomb, but we also have a really high poverty level,” Carper said. Carper recently began volunteering with the Loaves and Fishes food pantry in Macomb. She said she’s unsure how much the city can do to combat poverty.
Carper said the Fifth Ward is made up of a mixture of long-time residents of Macomb and students of Western Illinois University. She said she hopes her college teaching experience will help her with talking to the students in her ward and representing their interests before the city council.
“What I’m really hoping for is that people of the Fifth Ward contact me with any problems that they have and I hope to be involved in solving those,” Carper said. “One of my favorite things is finding solutions to problems.”
Carper said she will also work to ensure local organizations that are awarded tax dollars from the city are spending it correctly.
Carper will take over Hinderliter’s committee assignments including public safety, park and pool, community development, and personnel.
Carper will take the oath of office during the April 4 City Council meeting. The term expires April of next year and Carper said she is planning to run for election at that time.
Mayor Mike Inman said three of the five applicants for the seat were women. Carper will be the second woman on the city council alongside the Third Ward's Mel Gilbert.