" What I am looking for in a candidate is public safety first, revitalizing neighborhoods second, stopping private investment with taxpayers dollars, third, and creating a downtown that has something to offer to citizens of Peoria, fourth." Donald Cummings, in a response to my Editorial Mind Over Matter in the Peoria Chronicle.
I think Donald has hit the nail on the head in this comment. Basic Services has been the agenda we need in Peoria, instead of this current administration of Empire Builders.
Public Safety has got to be the first and foremost concern of any incoming Council person, and should be the main concern of the incumbent council. Crime rates in the entire city have grown, particularly in the East Bluff area where the proposed TIF project will supposedly "redevelop and revitalize" the area. As has been said by others, new sidewalks, street lamps, and flower boxes will not attract businesses or home buyers into the area. Only a concerted effort that reduces risk to residents will do that. It is a precursor to the second and third items in Don's list, Revitalizing Neighborhoods and Stopping private investment with taxpayer dollars. The failed MidTown Plaza TIF should be enough to tell the council that the EVGC TIF WILL NOT WORK unless the first concern is met. Only after these concerns have been met should the City Council be concerned with building a "revitalized" downtown.
With this in mind, I have to look at the candidates with a critical eye. Gary Sandberg, C. J. Summers, and Beth Akeson are the three that come to mind who have openly espoused Basic Services. An increased police force is the most important concern for many of us, but it doesn't stop there. We need a responsive, interactive police force that works with neighborhood groups to provide a continuing dialog between residents and police. In order to do this, we need more police officers who are willing to get out of their cars and be approachable to the citizens of the community.
Ryan Spain has, in the past, chosen to support the efforts of the current council in placing the cart before the horse. Councilman Turner has openly told constituents in council chambers that he will vote his conscience and not the opinions of his constituents. Neither of these candidates appear to support the agenda that Don espouses.