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by: Diane Benjamin
Picking the right mayor and members of the city council can’t be made on who you like, who you know, or the guy with the best speech. First, you must determine what you think the role of government is. The mayor candidates beliefs range from:
Government should spend money on essential services like police, fire, pensions, and roads and not invest in other projects until the essentials are adequately funded
Quality of life, which means making the city an attractive place to live. That belief led to the Coliseum and now the gateway project and possible zoo expansion. Of course, that also leads to the roads falling apart because of redirected tax dollars and/or higher taxes to pay for it.
In the next 10 years the City wants to spend around $117,000,000 on capital projects, but they don’t have the money. The projects range from streets, sewers, storm sewers, parks, zoo, water, repairs and remodeling city buildings, golf maintenance, and some lessor projects. Besides these projects the City has large bond payments starting in 2018.
Obviously road repairs haven’t been a high priority. Pension funding hasn’t been a priority of the current city government either. Politicians frequently vote to spend money on things people can see so they can take credit for them instead of funding required items like pensions. Illinois went this direction and is in serious trouble. Bloomington has been headed the same way. (http://blnnews.com/2013/01/24/bloomington-employees-pensions/) City employees should be very worried about who is elected if they ever plan to retire. Current retirees should be just as worried. Taxpayers must worry too, since they are going to be paying.
The sad part is the majority of citizens won’t bother to vote. Those who do vote will not examine where the candidates stand. The Pantagraph will endorse the candidates who will benefit them. Local big names will push candidates beneficial to their community status. All the citizens who ignored the election will wonder what happened when taxes go up. They only have themselves to blame.