Interviews with Macomb City Council Candidates
Four seats are up for election on the Macomb City Council in the February 26 primary. The city has new wards as a result of the 2010 census.
The only uncontested race is in Ward 1, where incumbent Ryan Hansen is running unopposed.
Two candidates are running in Ward 2, three candidates are vying for the Ward 5 seat, and there are two candidates in the contest for alderman at large.
Hill was appointed second ward alderman in 2011 after no one filed to run for the seat in the election. She is running to be elected to a full four-year term.
“I think my experience that I’ve gained in the last couple years will assist me in being a better councilman,” Hill said. “I’ve found it interesting and (I’m) hopeful I can bring something positive to the council.”
Hill is especially interested in seeing the downtown revitalization project take place.
“One of the things that was stressed when I attended an IML (Illinois Municipal League) meeting last fall was: Do not let your downtown die,” Hill said.
“It’s difficult, and I think it’s going to be very challenging, but I think it would also be very beneficial and very rewarding.”
Hill said she would support any endeavors that are taken to secure funding for the project. She said the downtown was busy when she grew up in Macomb, and although some businesses have moved to the perimeters of the city she thinks the downtown remains important.
Hill would like to see more retail shops and restaurants downtown. She would also like to see more green space and wants to improve the sidewalks downtown.
Hill said pension obligations could prove to be a big challenge for the city, though she is unsure how to tackle the challenge.
Hill said she was born and raised in Macomb. She moved away for a while but returned in 1965 and has been a permanent resident ever since 1965. She is retired from the Illinois State Police after 30 years of working in administration with the state agency.
Wailand is a junior at Western Illinois University. He’s studying chemistry with an emphasis on pharmacy.
Wailand feels there is an unrepresented population in Macomb.
“This community thrives off of its college base. I’m running to fill that void and give students a voice in the city council that I feel they haven’t had before,” Wailand said.
Wailand said most of the residents of the newly drawn Ward 2 are students. He said they deserve someone who can “accurately” represent them. He also said he can bring a new perspective to the city council.
Wailand said he would like to make Macomb more inviting for businesses.
“You could lower tax rates. Maybe have incentives for businesses to move here and stay here,” Wailand said.
“I think a big issue when it comes to retaining small businesses is helping the owners feel that they are part of the community. Supporting them by shopping local (and) eating local.”
Wailand said he supports plans to improve the Adams Street entrance to WIU. He said residents and prospective students deserve something more than the “eyesore” that currently exists.
Wailand also support plans to revitalize the courthouse square.
Wailand considers himself a student leader at WIU. He said that – among other things - he’s in the Centennial Honors College, he’s a senator at large in the Student Government Association, and he’s involved with the WIU chapter of Habitat for Humanity.
Wailand said he will graduate from WIU in May, 2014. He said he will remain at Western to earn his Master’s degree if he is elected to the city council.
Hinderliter has been seventh ward alderman the past four years. Due to redistricting as a result of the 2010 census, the city now has only five wards.
Hinderliter said he is running for re-election because it’s been “a joy” to work with Mayor Mike Inman the past couple years.
“I have the time. I have the inclination. I think with another term we could get a lot more done,” Hinderliter said.
Hinderliter is especially interested in downtown revitalization. Last fall he took part in a city trip to Rushville, Jacksonville and Quincy to learn about their downtown revitalization programs.
“I was a little stunned by how parochial we were, how advanced they were, and how myopic we’ve been,” Hinderliter said.
“We need to catch up with them. We need to have some vision but do it smartly.”
Hinderliter would like to see a splash pad in Chandler Park. He would prefer a little less parking on the square, a different parking pattern, and wider sidewalks. He said wider sidewalks would allow for outdoor cafes and would allow retailers to put goods outside.
He would like to solicit more input from the public on projects such as downtown development.
Hinderliter said the city does a good job of looking after taxpayer dollars, “…unlike the state and the federal guys. We don’t operate in the red. We don’t make promises we can’t fulfill. We’re not selling hope.”
Hinderliter considers himself a fiscal conservative and a team player. He would like to see more homeowners take advantage of the city’s low interest loan program for housing rehabilitation.
Hinderliter owns a business on the courthouse square. He is a retired Army Reserve Colonel. He said he’s lived in Macomb for 30 years.
Lobdell is completing his 12th year on the city council. He currently represents the sixth ward, but due to redistricting as a result of the 2010 census, the city now has only five wards.
Lobdell said wants to continue working on city issues, especially the infrastructure improvement projects.
“Our infrastructure needs are critical. We’re way behind and we need to have a plan going forward,” Lobdell said.
“I think we’re doing a pretty good job of developing one but there’s a lot yet to come that I’d like to be a part of.”
Lobdell said he plays a “key role” in those projects through his service on the city council’s public works committee.
Lobdell considers the budget to be the biggest challenge confronting the city. He said the city faces some tough decisions as costs continue to rise. Lobdell believes taxpayers are doing their fair share, so he suggests the best way to improve the financial picture is by becoming a Home Rule community. He said Home Rule can help reduce the local tax burden if it’s used responsibly.
“It gives you access to hotel-motel tax (revenue) beyond the CVB (Convention & Visitors Bureau, ie, marketing) component,” Lobdell said. He said WIU students and their parents are important to Macomb but don’t pay as much in taxes as year-round residents.
“They’re a vital component of our economy but in relation to permanent residents, I think the argument can be made that they don’t pay the same tax burden but they do use the same infrastructure.”
Illinois cities with a population of at least 25,000 are considered Home Rule communities. Smaller towns can become Home Rule through voter approval of a referendum.
Lobdell said he came to Macomb as a student in 1984, fell in love with the city and put down roots. He is employed by the Western Illinois Regional Council, where he works with public transportation providers throughout the region.
Dunn is a senior at Macomb High School. He plans to attend Western Illinois University in the fall to major in economics.
Dunn feels property taxes are too high in Macomb. He would like to shift the tax burden and look at a consumption-based tax such as a liquor tax.
“We live in a college town. I don’t think we’re going to see a decrease in demand for liquor any time soon,” Dunn said.
Dunn said every little bit the city can do to reduce the property tax burden will help homeowners.
Dunn said the biggest challenge facing Macomb is economic development.
“We, as a city, need to look at innovative ways to make us more competitive, and that includes property taxes,” Dunn said.
Dunn said he supports plans to hire a consultant to assist with the downtown development project. He would like to see more beautification of the square and would like to add more retailers to the downtown.
He supports the current city council’s decision to issue $7.5 million in bonds to pay for infrastructure projects.
Dunn said he moved to Macomb five years ago. He said he has learned a lot about time management while in high school and said he could give back to the city by serving on the city council.
ALDERMAN AT LARGE
Moon is completing his 10th year on the city council as an alderman at large. He said he is semi-retired, has the time to serve as alderman, and enjoys doing it.
“We’ve tried to be good stewards of the taxpayers’ money,” Moon said. However, he said the city’s biggest challenge in the coming years will be to get its financial house in order. He said the city has cut about as much as it can from personnel but he does not support any tax increases.
Moon would like to hold public forums to get an idea of what services residents might be willing to do without.
Moon thinks the street repair program that the city is about to undertake is a good first step. He thinks the city has tried to address major problems.
Moon said he has been a proponent of creating a downtown atmosphere that would attract small niche businesses.
“I think our duty as the city is to create that environment down there and hopefully that would encourage property owners to fix their storefronts and the insides also. We could make that a nice place, a destination for people to come and spend a day and dine and shop.”
Moon would like to see wider sidewalks to allow for outdoor dining and to give merchants a place to roll out their racks for sales. He would also like to enhance the landscaping and perhaps add better lighting and a better sound system.
He said the underground infrastructure in the downtown must also be addressed, which will likely add a great deal to the cost of the project.
Moon said he has lived in Macomb his entire life and is heavily invested in the community. He attended Western High School and Western Illinois University. He said he’s good at listening to all sides of an issue.
ALDERMAN AT LARGE
Lavin served four years as second ward alderman from 2007 – 2011. He gave up the seat to run for mayor in 2011 but lost to Mike Inman.
Lavin said he enjoyed serving on the city council.
“I’m not going to change the world. But I just want to make it a little bit better than what it was when I found it. And I think I did that in the first four years,” Lavin said.
Lavin said when he served on the city council he pushed for passage of the extra half-cent sales tax to pay for infrastructure needs. He supports the city’s current infrastructure improvement plans “100%,” But he does not like the idea of issuing $7.5 million in bonds to get a jump on some of the work.
“To me, you’re kind of tying future council’s hands,” Lavin said. “In this economy, and the way people are so negative with the state, we’re spending money that we haven’t got.”
He said the sales tax should provide sufficient money to pay for projects.
Lavin said the city needs more good paying jobs. He said he would push to bring another industry to Macomb so students who graduate can find a job in town. He also said he would work to bring more franchise restaurants to Macomb.
Lavin said property taxes are too high. But he said there is nothing that can be done about that locally; he said it’s a problem with the state and the way it funds public education.
Lavin said he has lived in Macomb since 1997 when he moved to town to work at Western Illinois University. Lavin said he wants to give residents a choice in the election and said he is not afraid to make difficult decisions.