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Geneseo Republic - Geneseo, IL
  • Geneseo city seats up for election

  • Eight candidates are vying for seats on the Geneseo City Council. Election day is April 5th.


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  • Eight candidates are vying for seats on the Geneseo City Council. Election day is April 5th.
    Candidates on the ballot are:
    Ward One
    Lowell Ewert
    Occupation: Semi-retired.
    Previous political experience: Twenty-five continuous years as First Ward alderman, appointed in 1986. Geneseo Mayor Pro-Tem for serveral years.
    Over the span of 25 years, I have gained political experience through discussions with our federal and state legislators as well as Henry County?Board members, surrounding area mayors and councilmen, Bi-State Commission representatives and have chaired and been a board member of numerous boards.
    Why do you want to serve on the Geneseo City Council?
    • To contribute to the development of an aggressive home building program that would encourage large developers and small construction companies.
    • To investigate opportunities for the I-80 interchange.
    • To consider the need to expand the city limits.
    • To maintain fiscal responsibility.
    What are the biggest challenges the city’s currently facing??How would you address those challenges? Historically, the chief issues remain: (1) the absence of specific long-range goals, (2) lack of financial reserves to accomplish these goals, (3) and the determination not to be distracted by attractive, but expensive, non-budgeted projects, (4) to stabilize the work force.
    Partial solutions: (1) determine three specific long-range goals, (2) discuss possible new revenue streams and an aggressive grant program, (3) non-budgeted projects must be presented with an identified revenue source, (4) balance the city’s financial position and ease the burden staff has endured due to lack of pay increase.
    What do you think the city’s doing well? I appreciate the continued cooperation and dedication of the city employees.
    Ward Two
    Jeanne Ryan Hartsock
    Occupation: Owner/manager of Abundant Storage in Geneseo and office manager for Good Faith Construction Inc. in Geneseo.
    Previous political experience: This is my first time seeking an elected office.
    Why do you want to serve on the Geneseo City Council? I am running for city council because I love living in Geneseo and am concerned about its future. This is a wonderful community to live in and work in, as well as raise a family.
    As a wife, mother and local business owner, I want to make it an even better place to live. We need to work together attracting new businesses and families to our great town. I believe in serving with honesty and integrity to move the City of Geneseo forward.
    What are the biggest challenges the city’s currently facing??How would you address those challenges? The current city council has an adversarial relationship that prohibits them from working together coherently and productively, and I believe some have lost sight of what the great people of Geneseo want for their town. I will listen to the people and do my best to bring unity and dignity to our city.
    Page 2 of 7 - I am a fiscal conservative and believe we need to run the city the way we manage our homes and businesses. We need to complete a forensic audit, have complete transparency in our city government and be accountable to the taxpayers for how their dollars are being spent.
    What do you think the city’s doing well? It is important during times of conflict not to forget the many outstanding aspects of living in Geneseo.
    Our public services do an excellent job providing their varied services. City wide clean-up is an appreciated convenience. I was truly amazed the day after the big snowstorm at how well the streets were cleaned in such a short period of time.
    Our police chief and the department employees are professionals who do a terrific job serving us, as well as assisting the state police.
    We have a wonderful school system, active with many clubs, sports and musical activities. We have many terrific businesses who donate time, talent and funds to so many projects around town.
    We have a wonderful community that pulls together in times of need. Volunteerism is strong — just go to one of the many ice cream socials in the city park filled with volunteers who help so many terrific organizations.
    There is such a strong spirit of community and it is my hope that we pull together to move our town forward.
    I am grateful for this great nation and the many who have served it so that we are guaranteed our freedom and the right to vote. I encourage people to exercise that right. Please feel free to contact me with feedback by phone at 945-1600 or by e-mail at hartsock@geneseo.net.
    It would be an honor to serve as your representative to our local government.
    Arnold Schmid
    Occupation: Retired. Previously employed in the pre-press department at the Dispatch for 38 years.
    Previous political experience: Served as Second-Ward alderman for eight years. A member of the community development board for the past 25 years. Attended Bi-State Commission meetings.
    Why do you want to serve on the Geneseo City Council? I feel my experience as an alderman the past eight years would be an asset in serving the City of Geneseo. As a former chairman of the electric utility board, I have spent many hours reading and attending meetings regarding the coming mandates and regulations regarding the generation and distribution of electric power.
    I also have visited with state and federal legislators concerning Geneseo issues. I feel I am in the position to help make good decisions to benefit the citizens of Geneseo.
    What are the biggest challenges the city’s currently facing??How would you address those challenges? As in every city, the budget is a top priority. The city has many excellent and qualified employees. We need to implement ways to retain these employees. Elected officials may come and go, but the city department heads and employees are the people who keep the city running. We need to let them do their jobs and provide them with fair compensation.
    Page 3 of 7 - What do you think the city’s doing well? In the years I have served for the city, we have seen progress in many areas. Our wind turbines are up and functioning profitably and we have a new city hall and police station. We have a fully rented business incubator on the north side of the city, and the latest census information shows our population has increased.
    Ward Three
    Howard Beck
    Occupation: Assistant vice president of underwriting, Illinois Casualty Co., Rock Island.
    Previous political experience: Two terms on the Geneseo School Board, including two years as president.
    Why do you want to serve on the Geneseo City Council? We need a change in the current city council. The needs of the city have seemed to take a backseat to political in-fighting. Geneseo deserves and expects more dignified and professional representation than we currently receive.
    Our community has a long and proud history of working together to achieve many positive results. I will work toward re-establishing that sense of pride and cooperation.
    What are the biggest challenges the city’s currently facing??How would you address those challenges? Our primary challenge is financial. I believe that we are moving toward some improvement in revenue from sales tax, but that is more than offset by the uncertainty presented by state funding.
    We need to be fiscally responsible without compromising our quality of service.?I have experience in local tax-based budgeting as well as corporate budgeting.
    What do you think the city’s doing well? Despite a divided city council, city services have not appeared to suffer. It appears that we are moving toward implementation of better financial structure and controls. The local economy shows signs of improving.
    Karen West
    Occupation: Twenty-four years as Henry County Circuit Clerk, Geneseo division.
    Previous political experience: One term on the Geneseo City?Council.
    Why do you want to serve on the Geneseo City Council? To give back. My family is very much an important part of my life and it is also important to set an example of serving the community where you live, work, shop and worship. I?have learned it is not an easy task, but when a friend, neighbor or citizen comes up to me and says, “Keep up the good work,” it is very rewarding.
    What are the biggest challenges the city’s currently facing??How would you address those challenges? Like every other city, budget issues are on top of the agenda. Staying within our means and balancing services for our residents is a challenge we face. Some of those services cannot be valued in dollar amounts but need to be maintained because they are that important to our citizens.
    Page 4 of 7 - I see the very real need for ethics training in our city government. Training should be required of each alderman, at their own expense, of course.
    I am going to stand on my record of voting: “no” to a turn lane on Route 82 North, “no” to creating an economic development director position and “no” to spending $40,000 on a forensic audit when the city accountant did not think one was needed.
    What do you think the city’s doing well? Geneseo has had some positive news lately. The water treatment plant was named “Plant of the Year.’ The electric department was awarded the 2010 IMUA?Member Community of the Year Award. Our sales tax figures are rebounding much better than predicted. Our population has grown by 104 residents since last census. In dollar amount, that is approximately?$12,267 in various taxes per year for the city.
    The motor fuel tax and police pension fund accounts have been balanced. Standard and Poor’s has re-affirmed our two bond ratings, in the worst economic downturn in recent memory. The last is truly a remarkable feat considering it was reported in the Aug. 25, 2010, Dispatch “Geneseo books in chaos.”
    Ward Four
    Douglas Crow
    Occupation: Professional truck driver since 2000.
    Previous political experience: I worked as a volunteer in the campaigns of local candidates in 2008 and 2010 and in the Randy Hultgren for Congress campaign in 2010.
    I am the founder and director, since 2008, of the Henry County Constitution Society. The purpose of the society is to promote understanding of our founding and governing documents by providing a free pocket copy of the Declaration of Independence and United States Constitution to every household in Henry County.
    Why do you want to serve on the Geneseo City Council? In serving on the Geneseo City?Council, I?hope to unify the city government and end factional disputes on the council. City officials need to work together for the same purpose of doing the work of the city and meeting the needs of the citizens.
    What are the biggest challenges the city’s currently facing??How would you address those challenges? The biggest challenges the city faces are the factional disputes. The “council wars”?have created an image problem for the city with those who do not know us well, and that is an impediment to attracting new business and industry.
    We need to complete the forensic audit to ensure that we account for all taxpayer monies.
    Finally, the city council needs to pass enforceable ethical code of conduct and anti-nepotism ordinances for elected and appointed city officials.
    What do you think the city’s doing well? Geneseo is a great hometown community. Although the city has suffered some bad publicity in recent months, Geneseo is still a fine place to live and, through the efforts of wonderful organizations, churches and citizens, we will recover and present a more accurate image to the world.
    Page 5 of 7 - I believe Geneseo is a great hometown, and that is why I returned home in 2004 after a long absence for college and military service.
    We are served by many fine city employees who do a wonderful job maintaining our streets, parks and public utilities. There is a project in my ward to make needed improvements to State Street south of Main.
    The city council approved the engineering and planning to begin, so that, when funds are available, the project can proceed. The people living on that part of State Street will be getting new curbs, sidewalks and pavement on the surface and new underground utilities.
    This past winter, our public service superintendent Klint Rice implemented new snow removal procedures with a snow thrower to load trucks and remove the snow from our city to a location where it is deposited.
    Previous trucks had been loaded with end loaders and the new process saves time. Mr. Rice saved the city money by purchasing a used snow thrower, but that is not all. He has saved the city money by using less salt to remove the same amount of ice from our city streets.
    We appreciate the professionalism of our police department. We remember how our police, with the collaborative efforts of the Henry County Sheriff’s Dept., State Police and other municipal departments averted potential disaster when we had an armed siege more than a year ago. Chief Tom Piotrowski deserves credit for maintaining a well-trained and professional police force. Public safety professionals contribute to making Geneseo a great place to live.
    Curtis Spensley
    Occupation: Co-owner of Spensley Insurance Investments Inc. in Geneseo and Moline since 1981.
    Previous political experience: Four years as Fourth-Ward alderman for the City of Geneseo and 16 years as a zoning board member and chairman.
    Why do you want to serve on the Geneseo City Council? Our family has lived here since 1976. Our three children have gone through the Geneseo schools. We think the City of Geneseo is a great place to live. I have served on the city council for four years and would like to be a part of our city council as we turn the corner and see better economic times return. Also, I?have a vested interest, as a local businessman and also as a grandparent of four grandchildren, to make this town the best it can be.
    What are the biggest challenges the city’s currently facing??How would you address those challenges? Like other cities, counties, states and countries of the world, we have been in one of the deepest recessions and economic slumps ever seen. The economic times have caused major shortages of income for our city. The result of that has been very lean budgets.
    Page 6 of 7 - The challenge will be to never forget the tough times and for the future to keep our budgets lean. We will then have more money to spend on streets and infrastructure improvements.
    We also have to continue to pay down our debt and be very careful about creating any new debt. We must move slow and be conservative.
    What do you think the city’s doing well? When you compare all of the services our city provides to its citizens with any other city in the area, we always will be at or near the top. A great deal of this has to be credited to all of our city employees, both present and past for the last 175 years.
    We live in a city where you and your children can feel free to walk or bicycle around town with a great feeling of safety. The people who make up our town are second to none.
    One of my most memorable experiences happened after a major wind storm hit our area. Volunteers were requested to help clean up Oakwood Cemetery. Literally hundreds showed up and worked side by side and in a few hours had a massive job completed. People of today taking care of citizens of the past.
    I would appreciate your vote on April 5th.
    Editor’s note: Candidate Derek Betcher is running unopposed for an unexpired one-year term on the Geneseo City Council. Betcher previously was appointed to the council after then
    Fourth-Ward alderman Josh Pierce moved from the ward.
    Derek Betcher
    Occupation: Forecasting for John Deere’s construction equipment division.
    Previous political experience: Alderman since late 2010, appointed to fill an unexpired term.
    Current member of the electric utility board and community development board.
    Why do you want to serve on the Geneseo City Council? I love Geneseo, have lived in the city for 25 years, and want to help make sure the area continues to be a great place to live, work and raise a family. It’s been discouraging to read some of the negative headlines about Geneseo during the past year, and I would like to try and help restore unity in city government and focus on forward progress.
    What are the biggest challenges the city’s currently facing??How would you address those challenges? Geneseo needs forward-looking leadership committed to addressing the real issues facing the city: smart growth and development, responsible financial management and continuing to provide excellent, reliable services.
    I am interested in focusing on Geneseo’s needs, working constructively with the mayor, city staff and other elected officials and helping restore confidence in city government.
    City government needs to find efficient ways to provide its services; meanwhile the city should continue to make smart investments, maintaining our roads and infrastructure and preparing to grow our attractiveness to homeowners and businesses where it makes sense.
    Page 7 of 7 - What do you think the city’s doing well? Geneseo has a wonderful track record of providing services to its residents; the lights are always on, the streets are always plowed, the police are always ready to assist. These things quietly support the great tradition of Geneseo.
    We have great city employees — they share the local sense of community pride. We have good city organization and processes and concerned residents that ask for and deserve transparent, accountable city government.
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