Haynes hopes to continue serving city

By Gus Bode

Almost four years ago, Councilman Steven Haynes was elected to his position on the city council – but he doesn’t consider himself a politician.

“I say elected official,” Haynes said. “I feel that sometimes elected officials sometimes forget that we serve everybody, and we want everybody to be engaged.”

He said his initial reasons for running were that he felt his experiences as a life-long citizen of Carbondale gave him special insight into many aspects of the community, including being a student and a businessman.


Now, Haynes is eyeing another term as a councilmember and hoping to have the opportunity to serve Carbondale as he said his family taught him to do.

“I’ve always been one to have been taught for public service and to do those things that are required of us as community members,” he said.

Haynes said he felt community service was a large part of his life. He said he has worked with the Boy Scouts and served on the board of directors for the southern Illinois and Carbondale United Way.

The now 43-year-old councilman works as a manager of a Kroger grocery store. Haynes said he and his wife have been married for more than 20 years, have five children and 10 grandchildren.

He said he attended Carbondale schools all of his life, and spent time at SIU where he attempted to obtain a degree in business management accounting, but did not complete it.

“I’m still in the process,” Haynes said. “I went through the school of hard knocks and also trying to get myself back into school.”

One thing Haynes is sure of is his record as a councilmember. He said the direction Carbondale is moving in was a positive one, especially with what the city has done to redevelop the downtown area. He said the creation of the Friendship Plaza and the destruction of buildings that had become eyesores were all moves in the right direction.


He said the city had also accomplished a lot by cleaning up some zoning ordinances and establishing tax increment funding districts for businesses.

“I’ve always been one – I think at the annoyance of some of my fellow council members- to talk about neighborhoods,” Haynes said. “I think that I’ve always been one to talk about bringing moneys into the city for that purpose. I’m trying to get a good balance between neighborhoods and business.”

Haynes said the best vote he ever made was one to benefit the youth of Carbondale. When the future of the Eurma C. Hayes center came under fire, he was glad to be one of the ones voting to continue funding, although he attributed his vote in part to a community that rallied to keep the center.

Councilwoman Sheila Simon expressed the same attitude at the mayoral candidate debate held Friday. When asked if she felt the city had made the right decision to continue supporting the center, she said it turned out to be a very good decision.

“I think if you would have taken a poll at the beginning of that meeting we as a council would have said “cut it off, cut our losses, this is not good for the city’s financial health and not good for the city in any way,” Simon said.

She went on to say after hearing many people talk to the council about personal experiences and what the center meant to the community, the council voted to keep funding the center, and that had turned out to be a “very good decision.”

Hayes said that his support for the center went beyond what people had said to the council, and showed that the city had a social conscience because it was willing to invest in the youth of the community. It was also a personal vote for him.

“I was taught by teachers over there,” Haynes said. “I learned both good and not so good. My ABC’s, arithmetic, community skills – all those good things that kids need to have for interaction in the community.”

Haynes said that he hoped members of the community would continue to be involved, rather than pointing fingers and criticizing others. He said some voices are louder than most, but he hoped that all voices would continue to be heard by the council.

“I feel very positive about the direction of Carbondale,” Haynes said. “We have a diverse group of individuals currently serving and a diverse group of individuals who want an opportunity to serve.”

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