ICON Seeks Candidate’s Positions

Posted on 03/07/11 No Comments

ICON Seeks Candidates’ Positions

Download the voting positions of each candidate regarding the key issues in the recommendations (PDF) on our Springfield Election 2011 page along with surveys, radio and print interviews, and candidate endorsements from other organizations.

Over 80 people attended the Citywide Aldermanic Forum hosted by ICON, DSI, MBBA, and IPA. Twelve of the 16 candidates running for aldermanic seats in six Wards answered questions posed by representatives from the four host organizations. By a show of hands the candidates identified their positions on 29 different questions related to 12 different issues. Although the candidates had been provided the issues before the Forum, the questions were new. As an elected alderman with more time to research specific proposals and ordinances, positions might change. However, results of the Citywide Forum provided interesting insight into issues that certainly will be brought before the City Council in the near future.

Regarding distressed and boarded property, 100% of the candidates supported the City using foreclosure proceedings to take control of problem properties, and 11 of the 12 candidates supported increasing the fines and putting a limit on how long properties could remain boarded. They also supported down zoning problem properties from multi-unit rentals to single family homes if landlords don’t correct violations within a year. When asked about establishing zoning overlays for redevelopment projects, such as East Springfield, MacArthur Boulevard, and Enos Park, the majority acknowledged they were unfamiliar with that process. After Michelle Higginbotham, Vice Chairmen of ICON and the lead representative of the Enos Park Master Plan, explained it was a way to address specific zoning and code issues for more effective revitalization of older neighborhoods without needing citywide changes, the candidates supported the concept 100%.

Issues gaining little support from the candidates were 1) a moratorium on city expansion, 2) limit on funding projects on the outer edges of the city, 3) mandatory construction of parking garages with all new development in the downtown area, and 4) a single hauler for citywide collection of garbage and trash. However, the vote was split 6 to 6 in having a single hauler for a specific section or area of the city, such as individual neighborhoods. Eight of the 12 candidates did support having a single billing agent, such as CWLP, for garbage collection.

In discussing various financial issues the candidates unanimously supported establishing new TIF Districts for both business and residential neighborhood redevelopment projects. They also agreed 10 to 2 that stakeholders within each TIF District should be included in the process of reviewing requests for funding, and Downtown TIF funds should be used as an incentive during the last 5 years of that funding program for internal renovation of empty office buildings to create more downtown residential space. They also voted 10 to 2 to dedicate corporate funds for new sidewalk construction, and 9 to 3 to re-appropriate the 2% hotel/motel tax specifically for the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.

In reviewing various social issues the candidates unanimously agreed that state and federal funds designated for the homeless in Springfield include services for those identified as chronically homeless, and additional funds should be sought for a full service day center. The candidates also supported payday loans not to exceed 36% which is what the Federal regulations are for veterans.