Prospective mayoral candidates share their platforms

Prospective mayoral candidates share their platforms

By Jessica Brown, @BrownJessicaJ

Jane Adams, a city councilwoman, and John “Mike” Henry, a local business owner, are the two candidates running for mayor on April 7. Both candidates have ties to SIU.

John Henry

John “Mike” Henry enrolled at the university in 1961 and received his bachelor’s degree in engineering. He has owned and operated Henry Printing in Carbondale for 42 years.

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Carbondale has some dilemmas on its plate for next year, including a projected deficit of nearly $300,000.

“We have to balance our budgets now,” Henry said. “One of the first places I would make cuts would be discretionary travel by city employees.”

If elected, Henry plans on halting unnecessary travel by city workers for one or two years—expenses that traditionally get billed to the city.

While he wants to cut spending, Henry said he does not want to see any cuts in social services.

“It really upsets me that this country acts like they don’t have enough money to take care of the people who are disenfranchised and suffering from sickness,” Henry said. “There has to be a safety net.”

However, Henry is opposed to Adams’ plans to build skateparks, cricket fields and dog parks because he said Carbondale already has them.

“They may not be as fancy as we would like,” Henry said. “But when we are scrambling for money and we are trying to support city services, those are the last things that we need.”

Henry said what sets him apart from Adams is that she does not have the business experience he does.

Henry said he would like interim Police Chief Jeff Grubbs to be the permanent chief. He said community relations with the police are healthy.

“But since we had Ferguson and the incident in New York, there is a lot of sensitivity in the black community towards the police,” Henry said. “I would like to see us get back respect for the uniform, respect for the badge. And have it so our children, when they are in trouble, will run to a policeman instead of away from a policeman.”

When asked about the of lack advancement and acknowledgement women and minorities encounter in the workplace—one of Adams’ platforms—Henry said he has not noticed the problem but does not know the statistics.

Henry plans on working with SIU President Randy Dunn and other high-level officials to get university enrollment closer to what it was at its peak in 1990.

“When the enrollment went down it hurt everything in Carbondale, including sales tax revenue,” he said.

Henry said the city has a lot of taxes already and is not friendly toward small businesses. Of any potential new taxes, he said the package liquor tax is probably the best one.

Henry supporter Barry Cupp, president of Midwest Cash Inc., said for years, Carbondale was considered one of the least business-friendly cities in southern Illinois.

“I am supporting Mike Henry because he listens to businesses, and he is going to make Carbondale more business-friendly,” Cupp said.

Henry said Carbondale will save money in the coming years by making City Hall more efficient—not by imposing new taxes on small businesses.

“Instead of a situation where we say [to small businesses], ‘Here is what you need to do,’ I think we should be saying, ‘What can we help you with?’” Henry said.

Jane Adams

City Hall may see its first female mayor since 1987.

Born in Murphysboro, raised in Ava and a resident of Carbondale, Jane Adams is native to southern Illinois.

She received her bachelor’s degree at SIU and her doctorate degree at the University of Illinois, both in anthropology.

Adams worked as an anthropology professor at SIU from 1987 to 2010.

Her vast experience in this field assists her in understanding people of all backgrounds, which she said is a vital aspect of the community.

“Carbondale is incredibly diverse,” Adams said. “At SIU, there are a lot of international students or people who have immigrated from around the world. They are really important to our community.”

Inclusion and an emphasis on a diversified city are key points in Adams’ campaign. She said wants to see equal opportunity in advancement of women and minorities.

“There needs to be very conscious mentoring of all staff, but particularly women and minorities so they can advance through the supervisory managerial ranks,” she said. “That’s where I think the big barriers are.”

Adams has become aware of a double standard in terms of achievement and difficulty in navigating the workforce through personal experience.

“A woman has to accomplish more than a male peer in order to be seen worthy of advancement through the professorial ranks,” she said.

Her plans to revitalize Carbondale do not stop there.

Adams’ priorities also include an economic and downtown rejuvenation of the city’s services and amenities.

She said she would like to see more food, beverage and entertainment options available to make the city a more lively place.

“I want to recruit out of our alumni base,” she said. “I want to say, ‘Come to Carbondale and set up the business you’ve always dreamed of setting up, or bring a branch of your company here.’”

Her ideas to augment the city also include adding more bike lanes and flowers, a skatepark, cricket fields, dog parks and implementing fiber optics, a technology that uses glass fibers to transmit data.

Adams plans on paying for these amenities with governmental grants, implementing tax increment financing districts and the packaged liquor tax if put into effect.

A tax increment financing district, or TIF, allows a city to re-invest all new property tax dollars in the neighborhood. The property tax rate is frozen at the date the district is established by the city government, and the property owners pay the current rate. The city then uses its share to make permanent improvements to the district. 

Decreasing the budget deficit is a concern of hers as well. Though the initial projected deficit of $780,000 has been cut to an estimated $275,000, she said it is still important to whittle it down.

Security of the community is also a main component in her intent to revamp the city, as well improving the relationship between police and the public.

“Relations with police and the various communities they serve are always complicated,” she said. “They’re vexed. There’s always an issue of how to provide an environment with the most freedom and safety as possible.”

In order to modify the police force, Adams said a broad search for a permanent police chief with experience and a variety of skills is important.

This opposes the view of her competitor.

“Mike Henry has made appointing [Jeff] Grubbs as police chief one of his major issues, and I find that so puzzling,” she said. “Not only is it not the role of mayor, but we have so many other issues facing Carbondale. The appointment of a police chief, while important, is so far down the scale in terms of where you want to take the city.”

Adams said her experience in leadership positions and as a councilwoman makes her the ideal candidate. She said she learned the functions of City Hall through working with interim Mayor Don Monty.

She said what differentiates herself from Monty, however, is her detailed strategy for where she wants to take the city.

“He’s been a bit reluctant to put his own stamp on the direction of the city,” she said. “He didn’t have a specific plan except to improve citizen participation and make democracy work.”

A lack in direction is a weakness of Henry’s as well, Adams said. Besides his emphasis on keeping Grubbs as the police chief, she said has not heard much about his campaign.

“He has never articulated his vision,” she said. “As a voter, I would want to know where people stand on issues.”

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