Thank you for your support!
The Arbor District Neighborhood Association asked the four City Council candidates to respond to 16 questions. I compiled their responses here. The Arbor District asked the candidates to rank their priorities for the city and provide their qualifications. The questions asked their stands on the residency of city employees, improving rental housing, increasing homeownership and increasing neighborhood associations. They were asked about crime, speeding on city streets, beautification, storm water drainage, and the recently passed vacation rental units.
On some of the issues the answers were unanimous; on others they varied considerably. The Arbor District hopes their questions will help you decide who to vote to represent you for the next four years.
You can access the responses to all the questions as a pdf document.
Jessica Bradshaw: No.
Jeff Doherty: No. I support requiring executive staff to live with the city limits.
Lee Fronabarger: No
Carolin Harvey: No
Jessica Bradshaw: I support 2, requiring more staff to live within the city limits. To be fair, I think it should be the same for all employees. However, many unions have it in their contracts that they can live up to 8 miles outside the city limits, and even have tried to negotiate further. So if we want to get them inside the city, we’ll have to get the unions on board, and I’m not sure what that would take.
Jeff Doherty: I do not support requiring more staff to live within the city limits.
My response reflects my positions of Personnel Officer and City Manager for the City of Carbondale from 1985 to 2008 and my involvement in formulating and managing the residency requirement. From the late 1970’s to the mid 1980’s, the City required employees to reside within the City limits. In 1985, I was appointed Assistant to the City Manager/Personnel Officer. It became obvious that the strict residency requirement was having an adverse impact on the City’s ability to attract qualified applicants for City positions. I was charged with formulating a residency policy for City employees and designed the current policy structure based on a nine mile radius of Carbondale.
The policy adopted by the City Council in the 1980’s has allowed the City to attract and retain many quality employees. It should be noted that several City employees that reside outside the City limits do live in the CCHS district and consider the Carbondale community their home.
Another aspect to a residency requirement is the Illinois Public Employee Labor Relations Act and related arbitration and court decisions. It has been determined that residency is a mandatory item of bargaining in Illinois for public labor negotiations. In the early 2000’s, while I was Carbondale City Manager, public employee labor unions throughout the state were winning arbitration decisions eliminating residency requirements. The Carbondale Fraternal Order of Police, representing officers in the Carbondale Police Department challenged the City’s residency requirement by asking for a 20-mile radius for residency. The matter went before an arbitrator who decided in the City’s favor, that the nine mile radius requirement was reasonable and allowed housing options for employees. It was clear from that case that if the City had a strict residency requirement, the arbitrator would have ruled in the union’s favor.
Lee Fronbarger: Except where union contracts are set in residency requirements, all new employees should reside within the city limits of Carbondale. The city spends time and funds to train employees and it would be advantageous for city workers to experience what living within the city is like. Nearly half of city workers live outside the city limits of Carbondale which sets a poor example. Nearly 100 more Carbondale residents would also increase state tax funds to city each year. It is like you and other family members work at the Ford Plant in St. Louis, but all own and drive a Toyota.
Carolin Harvey: Yes, I support requiring more staff, specifically police and fire personnel, to live within the city limits?
1. Downtown revitalization – continuing the plan that so many people put so much work into.
2. Taxes/Budgeting – we cannot continue to rely on sales taxes so much.
3. Keeping young people here – increase arts and entertainment, as well as livable wage jobs.
4. Housing – we have got to do something about the rental/homeownership dichotomy.
5. Increasing green spaces and parks, supporting our local businesses, organizations, artists, etc. – everything that makes Carbondale great.
Jeff Doherty: I believe there are several equally important issues that should be addressed by the City in order to move the community forward and they are listed as a group below.
• Protect and enhance our neighborhoods
o Restore the Neighborhood Inspector position eliminated in the 2017 Budget
• Encourage homeownership
• Address the tax burden on property owners, residents and businesses
• Provide adequate funding for Public Safety
o Restore the four sworn police officer positions eliminated in the 2017 Budget
• Encourage business growth and invest in economic development
• Support Downtown redevelopment
• Make Carbondale a livable community and promote sustainability
• Make Carbondale an attractive community for SIU students
1. Diversify the local economy by generating new businesses and industry, partly by creating an Innovation/Start-Up Center and Co- Worker Space
2, Complete the redevelopment of the Downtown into an attractive and vibrant area with a mixture of boutique shops, restaurants, brew pubs, offices, museums and public venues and spaces. Also includes securing of funds to build the Multi-Modal Transportation Center
3. Police Dept. focus and taskforce to curtail and prevent crime in public areas of city and neighborhoods.
Carolin Harvey: I don’t have an agenda of priorities, I just want to do what’s best for Carbondale and the citizens of Carbondale.
Jessica Bradshaw: There was an idea floating around for a while about having homeless people live in unoccupied, dilapidated rental houses. They would get housing, and in exchange help make improvements on the house. That’s one approach I would support. In addition, I think that we need to have some way to make it less appealing for landlords to hold on to old houses, and to make it easier for them to help tenants purchase them, especially with all of the first-time homebuyer programs
Jeff Doherty: I will work to return these houses to single family homes, preferably owner occupied. During my tenure as Carbondale City Manager, we implemented two programs that can be beneficial to stabilizing and revitalizing our historic neighborhoods.
First was the First Time Homebuyers Program that remains in existence. I would propose more aggressive marketing of this incentive. Second was the $5,000 incentive to convert rental houses into owner occupied homes. Again, I would propose more aggressive marketing of this incentive and providing adequate funding to meet the demand for the program.
In addition to the above, I would propose a local sales tax rebate for materials used in rehabilitating these older homes for owner occupied uses and a City Government property tax rebate for a five year period for both first time homebuyers and for the Rental Property conversion to Owner Occupied Program.
Finally, over time as properties in R-2 and R-3 zoning districts are converted to single family uses, I would work to rezone those properties to R-1 Single Family Residential.
Lee Fronabarger: Research what other similar size communities and college towns have done to convert rental housing back into single family housing and ways to eliminate dilapidated structures beyond repair.
Look for any grant opportunities as well.
Carolin Harvey: I would support a plan to convert these rentals to affordable homes for low to middle income families.
Jessica Bradshaw: Yes, and this is something that the City Manager has mentioned that staff is working on currently. So it should be coming before us soon.
Jeff Doherty: Licensing landlords would depend on the purpose. Currently, rental property owners or their agents are required to register with the City, so the City has the basic information of who is in control of rental property. Also, the City inspects rental units under the Mandatory Rental Inspection Program to ensure the properties meet the minimum housing code and handle substandard housing on an individual basis. Licensing landlords advance regulating rental housing to another level where problem landlords could be faced with losing their license to rent in Carbondale. There are legal ways to get around this and I wonder whether it would be effective. I would rather explore raising the minimum housing standards and establish minimum aesthetic standards for rental properties.
Lee Fronabarger: Yes, if licensure would give the city more ability to deal with problem and un-responsive landlords that do not keep up their properties or their properties cause other issues in our neighborhoods, I would support the concept. The Illinois cities of Elgin, Rock Island, Chicago Heights, and Oglesby have rental licensing programs.
Here is the URL to a Guide for Drafting Rental Licensing Ordinance which could be very helpful in drafting an ordinance for Carbondale:
Carolin Harvey: Yes
Jessica Bradshaw: First, by licensing landlords, as mentioned above. I also think that some places should be checked more often and some less often, based upon previous performance. I also believe that surprise checks should be performed more often, especially if complaints are initiated by tenants. I also wonder if the new SeeClickFix app could be used to report poor conditions.
Jeff Doherty: The current City Council in the FY 2017 Budget cut one Neighborhood Inspector position the Building and Neighborhood Services; I will propose to add this position back into the budget to ensure adequate staffing to manage the Mandatory Rental Inspection Program.
As City Manager, the City implemented a housing unit registration fee to cover the cost of Inspectors assigned to the rental inspection program. The FY 2017 Budget projects revenue from this fee to be about $280,000 which roughly covers the total wages and benefits for five Inspectors. These Inspectors perform other normal day to day duties aside from rental inspections. Rather than using rental inspection fees to subsidize non-rental inspection duties, more General Fund money may be needed to ensure the rental inspection program is funded adequately.
Lee Fronabarger: Training of inspectors to make sure everyone is on the same page as to regulations and how to respond to issues and property managers or owners of property.
Carolin Harvey: I would support changing the inspection cycle. Newer properties could be inspected less frequently.
Jessica Bradshaw: Yes, I believe they have been pretty successful. If anything, the word needs to get out there more about these and other improvement programs.
Jeff Doherty: I support both programs. As noted above in No. 3, these programs are essential incentives to promote homeownership in Carbondale. We need be more aggressive in marketing these programs.
Lee Fronabarger: Yes, these are both good programs that will improve and grow our residential neighborhoods. We need to continue to explore ways to enhance and bolster these programs.
Carolin Harvey: I do support continuation of these programs because they offer needed assistance in increasing the number of homeowners in Carbondale
Jessica Bradshaw: Yes, and I think that the City’s planning staff is helpful when approached. I’m just not sure that many people are aware of the help that they could provide. No one is actively promoting neighborhood groups, not that I’m aware of.
Jeff Doherty: Yes.
Lee Fronabarger: City staff in Planning Dept. and other city staff should work on this idea as it will strengthen neighborhoods and allow more neighbors to get to know each other better.
Carolin Harvey: I would like to see implementation of this recommendation. However community members must be willing to work with staff for this to be successful.
Jessica Bradshaw: The City Council has a lot of storm sewer repairs on our list of CIP programs already, but of course that’s in addition to many other problems, too. Recently, the management review consultants suggested raising a sewer utility to help fund repairs more regularly, but it doesn’t seem like that is a popular idea right now. I would support this, however, if we reduced sales taxes, because I think that’s a trade-off that people would be willing to make.
Jeff Doherty: The City Council has a role in addressing stormwater issues in two ways: first, ensure that the public infrastructure is in place to handle stormwater reasonably and to make the appropriate investments in the Capital Improvements Program to address deficiencies; and two, ensure that proper polices are in place to regulate stormwater on new developments, i.e., stormwater detention and retention. I will work to carry out the Council’s responsibilities
Lee Fronabarger: Public Works Dept. has already completed some work on stormwater drainage issues. If budget funds are available, further study of problem areas and possible remedies and their costs should be tabulated. As this will be an expensive project, priority areas should be determined.
Carolin Harvey: Yes. I don’t have any specific suggestions.
Jessica Bradshaw: I am not sure if this is a potential issue, but if it is, I would not. If these people are investing in our community, they should be investing in the long-term – not just short-term. I would make an exception for the eclipse(s), though! I hope that we can prepare as many places as people need/ want to stay here.
Jeff Doherty: : I would not support such an extension, especially in an R-1 zoning district. The risk of behavioral problems by short term renters that would be incompatible with permanent residents is too great. Extending the provision to allow regular rental units in R-3 and R-2 districts could produce the same non compatibility issues. Actually, I have concerns about the ordinance recently passed, but am willing to observe how it works.
Lee Fronabarger: I would not support extension to non-resident investors as they may not be as dedicated to property or care about issues in the neighborhood.
Carolin Harvey: I would not support non- residents being included in this. Residents have a different perspective.
Jessica Bradshaw: Yes, the police should do more speed patrols on streets like Willow, Oakland, Sycamore, Poplar, and Mill than Highway 13 and 51. These streets are also wider, and should have more traffic calming measures put in, which will also help beautify these residential areas.
Jeff Doherty: The City Council’s role is to establish policies such as setting the speed limits. It is the City Manager’s role, and in this case through the Police Department, to implement the policies and enforce the ordinances of the City.
Lee Fronabarger: . Neighborhoods should work with the Police Department and City Manager directly to address the problem of speeding in residential neighborhoods first. If there is not cooperation or problem continues, then involve Council.
Carolin Harvey: I do believe that Council members can play a role in addressing this. We can voice concerns of citizens, request extra patrols, monitor speeds, lower speed limits in certain areas, and issue more tickets.
Jessica Bradshaw: Last year was a devastating year. Before that, the city’s major crime stats were decreasing. But of course gun violence is an increasing, nationwide issue that we, unfortunately, can’t do much about on a local level, besides increase awareness and contact our legislative representatives about… We also can begin to alleviate the issues that make people lean towards a life in crime, like lack of decent jobs, education, etc.
Jeff Doherty: I want to ensure the Police Department is adequately funded. The current City Council in the FY 2017 Budget cut four sworn police officer positions. I will work to reinstate those positions in the budget.
Many people in many places, much smarter than me, have tried to reduce crime. Carbondale has two demographic characteristics that can be associated with higher crime, a large young population by virtue of Carbondale being a university community, and a low socio-economic group.
In regards to the young university population, we need to stress upon SIU to adhere to strong admission standards to attract students who have a good possibility for college success. In addition, the Carbondale Police Department should continue to work with SIU on programs that are aimed at minimizing alcohol related crimes and crimes against women. Also, it is important that Police have a presence in off campus student areas. In the past, SIU officers would work side by side Carbondale officers in off campus areas; the idea being the SIU uniform is more familiar from campus.
In regards to the lower socio-economic group, crime is often related to financial needs or drugs, or both. The Police Department should continue its strong drug enforcement efforts working with other law enforcement agencies. The lack of jobs plays a large role in crime and often adults do not have access to jobs that are available due to previous criminal records. I support the City increasing its funding for its Economic Development Office so that it can be more aggressive in creating more jobs in the community. Providing jobs to lower socio-economic youth, such as summer youth job programs, can be beneficial. Also, it is important that the community support youth programs including Boys and Girls Club, Attucks, and I Can Read Program.
Early in my tenure as City Manager, we introduced the Community Policing concept in Carbondale. The idea that the community can play an important role in curbing crime is an important element of this concept. I am pleased that the current Police Chief embraces Community Policing. I support the creation of more Neighborhood Watch groups and more Neighborhood Associations that invite Police into their neighborhoods.
In regards to the perception that Carbondale is not safe, it is a long held belief. High profile crimes in the community, especially in the past few years, have reinforced this perception. On a regional basis, Carbondale is different for many in southern Illinois. We have many diverse backgrounds and cultures represented here. We need to continue to promote that as a strength for our community.
Many in Carbondale feel the community is unattractive. If visitors to the community feel the same, it can impress upon them that the community is not safe. We need a strong effort to improve our appearance.
SIU and Carbondale are synonymous, and marketing efforts by both should be coordinated to stress the strengths of both the university and the community. The new branding effort can play an important part of addressing the unsafe perception.
Lee Fronabarger: Many cities are utilizing surveillance cameras in problem areas to curtail crime and collect evidence. Also more community policing in downtown and some neighborhood areas that have experienced increased crime to assure citizens the police officers are working to combat crime and violence and to see that they are human also.
Carolin Harvey: I would support more positive PR about Carbondale and all the good things that happen here. We can’t continue to let the media constantly focus on the negative aspects of life in Carbondale
Jessica Bradshaw: Yes, and I believe that is what we are starting to do with our Downtown Master Plan. Of course this work has just begun, and we need to ensure that the TIF money continues to flow. There are a number of ideas in the Bicycle Plan, too, that will improve the look of the city, while also improving its accessibility.
Jeff Doherty: Yes. One of the more common comments I hear, unfortunately, is that Carbondale does not have a good appearance. Rather than cutting positions in Building and Neighborhood Services, I will work to add Inspector positions in order to have the staff that can address problem areas. Further, I would support a façade improvement program in business areas outside the downtown area, continue the residential curb appeal program, and establish minimum aesthetic standards for rental properties.
Lee Fronabarger: Making a good first impression is important to attracting new residents, businesses, and visitors/tourists to Carbondale. Our major entryways and thoroughfares would be a top priority and eventually, as funds are available, to other prominent areas of town.
Carolin Harvey: Yes
Jessica Bradshaw: Yes. I think that’s a key part of the changes downtown, and of course the Comprehensive Plan mentions it often. If you review the Bicycle Plan, there are so many great ideas, and it’s not going to just make it better for bicyclists, but for everyone. If it were safer, more kids would be out more, more neighbors would meet each other, etc.
Jeff Doherty: Yes. During my tenure as City Manager, Carbondale won a national award for working with the Partnership for the Disabled in making the community accessible. We developed a community bike plan that was the prelude to the current bike plan (the community appears more receptive now to investing resources towards bike routes). The City has had a long practice of requiring sidewalks in new residential and commercial developments as well as funding an annual program to repair and replace sidewalks and to fill in gaps. IDOT’s view of streets has changed from “just for vehicles” to the total street concept including vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists. I will work to provide the necessary resources to make Carbondale a “more bike, pedestrian and disabled friendly City”.
Lee Fronabarger: Much work in this area has already been accomplished and I would support continued work on this. Maximizing the securing of grants would aid in expansion of opportunities to further create Carbondale as a bike, pedestrian, and disabled friendly city.
Carolin Harvey: Yes.
Bradshaw: Not only can and should they, but this has already begun, albeit in some small ways. The bike trail that connects from campus to downtown along the railroad tracks is a great example. It probably went a long way towards both the City and SIU getting Bicycle-Friendly designations recently by a national organization. I would also rather see SIU work with the City and our empty houses than build new housing, with all the financial stress we’re both under. Many students prefer smaller, more intimate housing to giant apartment complexes.
Jeff Doherty: SIU can be a resource for the City’s efforts to improve residential neighborhoods through the various disciplines on campus, i.e. design, landscaping, internships, etc.
Lee Fronabarger: With the current budget crisis in Illinois, I don’t see SIUC having the funds or resources to expand into such an endeavor in the short-term. Limited funds will keep them focused on their core responsibilities. They might be able to work on a program to encourage graduate students, staff, and faculty to reside in residential neighborhoods, especially close to campus and that already have a good number of single-family dwellers.
Carolin Harvey: Yes. Better housing for students, staff, and faculty would be a plus for the City and SIU. Having
Jessica Bradshaw: It’s easy to say taxes are too high, but it’s harder to name something that you would actually be willing to cut. Rather than continuing to rely so much upon sales taxes especially, which are regressive, I believe we need to focus more on raising fees for the services that we pay for, as much as possible. For example, a sanitary sewer user fee should cover the expense of keeping our sewer system updated. While the state limits what we can and cannot tax, I think that we could challenge some of those by using incentives and penalties for specific things. For example, the Sustainability Commission has discussed banning Styrofoam for a long time. Rather than simply banning it, we should fine people/places who use it, to create an incentive to switch to more sustainable alternatives. Same with single-use plastic bags and bottles. We could explore other types of targets.
Jeff Doherty: Taxes in Carbondale are high. The property tax rate in the community is $10.40 per $100 EAV. It is a primary reason people choose not to live in Carbondale. The tax rate in Carbondale has risen from $8.00 per $100 EAV in 2010 to $10.40 per $100 EAV in 2016, a 30% increase in six years. For a house valued at $120,000, this equates to an increase in annual property taxes from $2,721 in 2010 to $3,535 in 2016, an $814 increase. During this same period, the City of Carbondale’s General Government property tax rate (the City is only one of 11 taxing districts on the tax bill) rose from $0.00 to $0.34 per $100 EAV. The City’s portion of the property tax bill is only 3.3% of the total bill. This is a community problem that cannot be addressed by just one unit of government, but must be addressed by all taxing districts. The City must take the lead in this matter.
For many years, the City has been able to rely on sales tax revenues in lieu of property taxes. The local sales tax on general merchandise is currently 8.75%; for food and beverages, it is 10.75%. On July 1, the rates will increase another 1% due to the countywide school improvement sales tax. These rates are too high.
The residents of Carbondale feel taxed out. The businesses of Carbondale are struggling with new taxes.
Budgeting is about setting priorities with the resources you have. The City cannot keep going to the tax well to fund what it wants. It is time for the City to set its priorities within the financial parameters it has.
Lee Fronabarger: The City has to have the available funds to make the improvements in the Downtown and for other projects in the city. Also 90% of Police and Fire Dept. pensions have to be funded by 2040 as mandated by the State of Illinois.
The City portion of the County Real Estate Tax Bill is very small compared to the Elementary and High School Districts. Consolidation of services should be explored and the State of Illinois should continue their study and work on consolidation of governmental units to reduce duplication of services and costs.
Cities that are regional centers of commerce depend upon sales taxes to prevent raising property taxes and to maintain a balanced budget. We may need to look at not renewing the one-fourth cent sales tax that sunsets in 2018, but the State Mandate on Police and Fire Pensions may prevent that. We will need to see if there is an increase of sales tax revenues this year.
As far as spending cuts, as a last resort, I would have to seriously look at the funding of community service agencies and the tourism budget may need to be reduced. We may need to keep city vehicles and police cars in service longer to stretch the budget, like many of our neighboring and regional cities are doing. Cuts in spending would require further and deeper investigation by city staff and Council. In making cuts, you are not going to get a consensus from citizens of where to cut. Getting the local economy growing and attracting more shoppers and diners to Carbondale would help increase revenues to balance the budget and might allow the 2018 one-fourth cent sales tax, which generates about $1 million per year, to sunset.
Carolin Harvey: No
Jessica Bradshaw: I believe that I have a unique perspective, having seen this city from so many different perspectives: as a teenager, a business owner, an employee of SIU, and of course, a resident. I’ve enjoyed serving the community for these last 4 years, not just on the Council, but on the Planning Commission, too. Before that, I was on the Human Relations Commission, so I bring my wide variety of interests to the Council, too. A wide worldview is essential these days, especially with our ever expanding community, with SIU students coming from over 100 different countries. In addition, I am a great team player and easy to get along with. As anyone who has observed the Council for long has seen, our current Council has great group dynamics.
The era of petty politics and personal disagreements is gone, and I believe that has allowed us to accomplish much more than previous Councils had. I hope you agree, and I hope you vote to re elect me on April 4th Thanks.
Experience – Leadership – Community
• 32 years Carbondale City Government experience (1976 – 2008)
• 16 years Carbondale City Manager (1992 – 2008)
• 7 years Executive Director, Jackson Growth Alliance (2010 – 2017)
• Current President of Southern Illinois Champion Community Investments
• Current Board Member of Carbondale Chamber of Commerce
• Current Board Member of Jackson CEO
• Current Board Member of Southern Illinois Economic Development Authority
• Current Board Member of City of Carbondale Personnel Board
• Past Chairman of Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board
• Past Chairman of Southern Illinois Research Park
• Past Secretary/Treasurer of Varsity Center for the Arts
• Two degrees from SIUC: Bachelor in Administration of Justice, and Master of Public Administration
• 45 year resident of Carbondale
• Married 37 years to Barbara Vogler, a lifelong Carbondale resident
• Two adult children that attended CES #95 and CCHS #165
Carbondale is home. I want to use my experience, knowledge and skills on the City Council to help Carbondale grow and prosper.
Lee Fronabarger: I have six years of experience serving on the City Council and four years of service on the City Planning Commission. I make it a point to research how other cities handle issues or work on projects to see how that may relate to Carbondale.
I have 22.5 years of work experience in Transfer Student Services at SIUC, having communicated and worked with faculty, staff, community college counselors, students, parents, and administrators on behalf of transfer students and off-campus military students and advisors. Transitioning to new computer software and training other staff was part of the SIUC experience.
I also have the dedication and experience of working over 12 years as a founding member of the Park District Aquatics Committee in securing the construction of our new Super Splash Park. Volunteering with other local residents for Carbondale Main Street, Carbondale Chamber of Commerce, Keep Carbondale Beautiful, Habitat for Humanity, Toys for Tots Distribution, and Varsity Center for the Arts Restoration has given me the opportunity to meet new residents and share in their desire to give back to the community and make Carbondale an even better place to live and enjoy life.
Carolin Harvey: I have four years of experience on City Council.