Mayor Carolin Harvey shares her vision at SIU’s Paul Simon Institute

Mayor Carolin Harvey shares her vision at SIU’s Paul Simon Institute

Mayor Carolin Harvey wants the community to know her plans and goals for the city of Carbondale. She joined SIU’s Paul Simon Institute for a discussion with local residents on Aug. 28 at the Student Center.

Before speaking, Harvey went around the ballroom to every table and thanked everyone for attending.

John Shaw, director of the Paul Simon Institute, introduced Harvey and spoke briefly on the “Meet the Mayor” event series which has taken place across the state.


Harvey started the discussion by recalling various speeches by Dr. Martin Luther King. She took a moment of silence to pay respects to the victims of the recent Jacksonville, Florida, shooting.

She spoke on her 10 years working at the city council and her decision to run for diversity and representation.

“The experience has been enlightening and sometimes frustrating,” Harvey said. “But I decided to run because, at the time, the other person of color on the council decided not to.”

Harvey said her religion and relationship with God are what ultimately pushed her to become mayor.

“When people would ask me to run my answer was emphatically no,” Harvey said. “But I’ve always said unless I hear from the Lord, and I did, so I have to follow.”

Shaw asked about Harvey’s work relationship with the city manager.

“The city manager and our staff, I don’t want to leave them out because I think they all do a great job,”  Harvey said. “Basically what I tell them is ‘they do the work, I get to look good.’” 


When asked about the issues she focused on the most, she said she’s currently zoned in on the two issues of crime and housing in the city.

“The incidents of gun violence have increased. We know it’s not just a Carbondale problem it’s a nationwide problem,” Harvey said. “ And providing housing to low to middle-income families is a concern also.”

When the discussion transitioned to economic development in Carbondale, Shaw asked about the challenges businesses face with the population decline.

Harvey said the city has been and is currently aggressively seeking business to fill spaces in the community.

“At this point, we have a lot of empty space in the University Mall. There’s a lot of empty storefronts,” Harvey said. “If you know of businesses… in Carbondale, please contact our economic development director and let them know about those businesses so he can hopefully contact them or maybe they’ve already contacted us.”

Harvey  encouraged people to contact her or her administrative assistant. She also encouraged people to download the SeeClickFix app.

“If you see potholes or a tree that’s down, or a neighbor’s loud music, whatever,” Harvey said. “It instantly sends the information to the city for that.”

As the forum opened up to the people in attendance, the questions ranged from how the city is tackling homelessness to violent crime, and mental health to after-school programs, the council members, and much more.

“The city supports the Carbondale Warming Center, at this point, we do need additional funding,’ Harvey said. “The city [supports] the building and takes care of the utilities and lights to support the Carbondale Warming Center.”

Harvey said the city has advertised and is interviewing for a director of violence prevention for the city of Carbondale. The first step is filling the position and coming up with a game plan to attack the issue.

A parent voiced concern about the Boys and Girls Centers closing, with the mayor saying the city is taking steps to make sure schools adjust to things like this.

“Public schools … have an after-school program already,” Harvey said. “They are expanding their hours after school so that children can be serviced.”

In the future, Harvey said, she hopes to see more young people on the city council and in return engage more youth in the community.

“If we are to move forward into the 21st century and do things that will attract younger people, we need those younger voices,” she said. “Start with something smaller. We have lots of boards and permissions that you can volunteer for.”

The contacts for the staff of Economic Development and the Boards and Commissions can be found on the Explore Carbondale website.

Jamilah Lewis can be reached at [email protected]. To stay up to date with all your southern Illinois news, follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.


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