Simon, Haynes and Jack for city council

By Gus Bode

Simon, Haynes and Jack for city council

There are eight City Council candidates for three four-year seats this year. All eight are viable candidates. We are glad to see that the expansion of the City Council has a diverse range of people interested in improving the city. But of those eight, we endorse Sheila Simon, Steven Haynes and Lance Jack for the four-year seats.

Sheila Simon demonstrated strong knowledge of all the issues. Her background as a lawyer and Law School professor at SIUC displays a connection to students and their concerns. In addition, Simon is straightforward and honest. Even when she didn’t know the answer to a question, she opted to say so instead of making something up on the spot. When she did have the answers, she had specific plans for Carbondale, such as the Human Relations Commission having subpoena power, but resolving issues on a low level with a neutral mediator and not allowing them to have punitive powers.

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One of her main issues is that of zoning. Simon, who lives down the street from the former high school, hopes to help settle zoning problems such as that of Cherry Street by enforcing citations and warnings. When it comes to new business in Carbondale, Simon said we must focus on existing and new businesses by people already located in Carbondale, and that Carbondale’s regulations make it difficult. Her other ideas include improving biking in the city and investigating environmental issues that could save the city more money. Overall, her experience as a prosecutor, a professor and a wife and mother allow Simon to bring a strong voice to the council, one with strong ideas.

Steven Haynes will bring an interesting perspective to the council. We endorse Haynes not only for his views on the HRC, but because his experience and diversity will give the council something to think about.

Haynes, who worked his way up from a bagger to a manager at Kroger, demonstrates that he has the ambition to put hard work into projects. He was part of the original task force recommending the HRC, and believes it needs to have membership elected, who will then decide the rules of the commission. Those elected members should be selected from quadrants of the city, Haynes said. He also said the reason an HRC can help is to prevent forcing the police to police themselves on such matters. He believes it needs subpoena power, but not punitive powers.

Born and raised in Carbondale, Haynes has been paying attention to politics since his father ran for mayor against Neil Dillard. He hopes to be involved in drawing businesses to Carbondale, by directly serving as an ambassador for the community, going out and inviting business to the area. Haynes approached city issues such as what he called “a lack of understanding and mutual respect” with humor and seriousness in one. He is willing to use tax incentives to bring business and believes students can be more involved with the city to improve student and community relations. Regarding ordinances, Haynes suggests that the city enforce them more strongly, allowing less time to lapse between inspection visits.

Haynes has a tendency to be a talker, but in many cases, the council needs a strong voice. Overall his experience in Carbondale business and politics, and his willingness to work makes him a strong candidate for the City Council.

Lance Jack brings numerous qualities to the table, such as his part ownership of Harbaugh’s Cafe on the Strip, contact with students and experience with Carbondale and SIU. We endorse Jack for City Council because of his experience and his ideas. Jack has been working as a businessman on the Strip for three years, and knows what it will take to draw more business not only to that area, but also to other regions in the city. He suggested tax incentives as one way of doing so.

Because Jack relies on students for business and has constant contact with them, he has his finger on what students want. As a former SIUC student, Jack hopes to improve housing in Carbondale and enforce codes to make neighborhoods more attractive. Jack does not support the Human Relations Commission, but because the commission has already been voted upon, he said he wants to see more attention to given to the reason it was suggested in the first place:the public sector. Proposals have focused solely on business, Jack said, when the root of the problem began with the police and students.

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Jack’s ideas for a teen center and a pool display that he is paying attention to the perceived needs of the community. In the end, his personable approach and receptiveness make him a good candidate.

Dan David may have strong ideas, but he seemed more content shooting down all those on the table than producing new solutions. Therefore, he did not receive our endorsement. David seemed out of touch with students, saying that he doesn’t have many students frequent his body shop, AutoTech. We believe that while students are not the entire town, they have a large impact on business. David may be complacent with the status quo of Carbondale, but many see much room for growth and progress in this town, which is what running for council is all about. David does not support a Human Relations Commission in any form, but did say he has not examined the issue closely. However, he did say that such a body would harm businesses and prevent others from coming to Carbondale.

David’s entrepreneurship and ties to two children in high school make him a good candidate. He was also opposed to rezoning Carbondale, instead suggesting we follow the current codes. With this, we agree. But his sole focus is on business in Carbondale. We believe that David made a good point:Carbondale demonstrates an anti-businesses attitude at times. While this is an important part of Carbondale’s future, it is not the only part. David’s other ideas included a community-sponsored party to bring students and the community closer together, which we like. We also liked his idea of looking at consolidating some forms of local government. But in the end, David was just not as strong a candidate because of his anti-Carbondale attitude.

Mike Neill has been on the City Council for eight years, and while he gave strong points about why he should remain, during those eight years it has been difficult to discern what he has done. Neill does not receive our endorsement because he has sat at the table in silence. Neill has genuine concern about business issues in Carbondale, and his experience as a Carbondale native and stockbroker for the Old National Trust Company give him a good perspective on the city. Still, Neill does not have a record of making the changes he is promoting. We agree that Carbondale is not always the most business-friendly, but Neill said he has never voted against the advisement of the Chamber of Commerce, something that has us wondering if he uses his votes consciously.

We are glad to hear the Neill, for one, is concerned with Carbondale’s mounting debt. Currently at about $60 million, the city plans to borrow millions more for projects, and that doesn’t include what new council members hope to accomplish. But while he might be a voice of reason on the budget, other times, he has no voice. He wants to increase retention at SIUC, but has no specific plan, saying he would listen to the Chamber of Commerce. He makes arguments against the HRC, saying it will cost businesses a lot money to hire attorneys for penalties and cost them business when their name is made public. Because the HRC has no definitive form yet, it seems that these situations could be prevented without just dismissing the commission altogether.

The reason for expanding the council this year was to draw new blood into the arena. We think it is time to do so, and give others a chance.

M. Stalls may have good ideas, but she won’t tell us what they are. The SIU graduate and employee for the Center for Basic Skills does have contact with students, but she does not receive our endorsement because she has not been forthcoming. Stalls is running on four tenants:vision, courage, concern and compassion. While those are certainly important parts of being a city councilwoman, we believe that all the candidates running demonstrate these points. Running for council means telling people who you are, and it is hard to understand her when she won’t discuss her plans.

She said she does not want her plans for attracting business to Carbondale out there in case she does not win. But how do we know what we’re voting for otherwise? She does believe in the Human Relations Commission, and said it must have authority or it will be just another advisory board. We agree. She also said it must have subpoena and investigative power, to overview the police’s board. We agree. Zoning must be a case-by-case situation, she said. We agree.

But while we agreed with what she did say, it’s what she didn’t that worries us. In addition, Stalls’ phone number is not listed. She does not own an answering machine. She works full time. It is difficult to get in touch with her, something imperative for a constituent needing help. While she said she plans to work something out telecommunications-wise if elected, it seems aggravating now.

Her other ideas included a student housing survey to bridge the gap between students and the community, community celebrations and lunches with the City Council. Her receptiveness, thoughtfulness and willingness to work hard are assets to any future councilwoman, overall, we’re just uncertain of what we’d be getting if we voted for Stalls.

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