Revitalize Carbondale

Carbondale must reclaim its legacy of innovation,

leadership, and risk-taking in the new digital era.

 This blog encourages programs and polices to support

● Reinvestment in and revitalization of Carbondale

● The safety and security of all our residents and visitors

● A responsive, efficient, thrifty city administration 

● Welcoming people of all nationalities, races, abilities, and sexual orientations to our city

The challenges and opportunities facing Carbondale transcend our municipal boundaries. We must also work with county, regional, state, and national levels of government and organizations in order to achieve the goals outlined here.

I outline here my approach to the four goals I see as vital to Carbondale’s progress and vitality:


Carbondale is overly reliant on sales taxes. The future holds significant challenges to retail businesses as Internet sales gain extraordinary amounts year over year. We must create a business environment to encourage entrepreneurs and small business development.

Build Carbondale’s economic base

o Establish Carbondale as a “Next Century City” through fiberoptic development

o Promote creation of “value added” agricultural products

o Build on and promote Carbondale’s arts and entertainment enterprises.

o  Lower barriers to entry for business

o Vigorously recruit SIUC and CCHS alumni to establish start-up companies or bring branches of their companies to Carbondale.

o  Recognize immigrant Americans as among our most vigorous and entrepreneurial citizens.

● Review and implement the Downtown Master Plan

o   Make the Downtown the center of Carbondale’s civic life

o  Encourage the development of its arts, entertainment, and outdoor activities

o  Develop Carbondale’s music scene, a key part of our legacy

o   Re-engergize Carbondale as a regional entertainment hub

● Renew Carbondale’s residential neighborhoods

Carbondale’s gigabit connectivity makes it the only place many people can live. We must build on this growing fiberoptic network that only Carbondale can offer.

o  Promote redevelopment of the city’s core residential neighborhoods using Historic Designation property tax freezes, residential TIF districts, and other policy tools

o   Vigorously enforce housing codes to assure that single family homes and apartments provide high quality rental housing

o   Revise our subdivision code to promote new residential development

Promote a rich civic culture attractive to people of all ages

o   Collaborate among the City, the Park, and the School Districts and relevant civic organizations to create places for people to meet and enjoy themselves with an Active Outdoors program

o   Build skate parks, cricket fields, and dog parks in conjunction with the new bike and walking path

o   Brand Carbondale as a unique city with its symbol as the world famous thinker Buckminster Fuller.

o   Promote live/work developments in the walkable downtown core neighborhoods.

 Nurture the soul of our community

o   Encourage great social offerings and activities

o   Create beautiful surroundings

o   Be welcoming to people of all backgrounds and abilities


City government must do its utmost to make sure that residents and visitors are safe in their persons and their property.

We must recognize that Carbondale is 70% millennials – the youngest city in Illinois.

It is, additionally, a regional center for a large number of social services that attract a significant number of very poor people. This population presents special challenges.

Carbondale is the home to the two largest employers in the region; it provides services and hosts numerous festivals and events that bring people to the city. Therefore, the number of people for whom Carbondale provides services is far greater than its resident population of 26,000.

We must address our relatively high crime rates through effective law enforcement while finding innovative responses to our unique conditions.

● Adopt “safe city” codes and procedures

● Enhance neighborhood policing

● Maintain high levels of professionalism and systems of accountability within the police force

● Promote transparency in police procedures

● Create collaboration among relevant city departments; social service agencies; civic, religious, and neighborhood organizations; and SIUC and SIH to address broader issues associated with disruptive and criminal behaviors.

● Increase public access to government data


City government and administration must be imbued with an ethic of public service, and it must make every effort to be as efficient and forward-looking as possible.

● Hold the line on taxes. Any new taxes should be restricted to carefully targeted new projects

● Make service to the public the number one priority of all City activities

● Assure that minorities and women have equal access to all positions and advancement

● Conduct a top-to-bottom management review to assure that all tax and rate-payer dollars are used as efficiently and effectively as possible

● Build quality assurance and customer satisfaction into all interactions between the City administration and the public.

● Implement data-driven strategic planning for the administration’s management and financing

● Unlock the intelligence, knowledge, and commitment of employees so they contribute to finding the most efficient, effective ways to provide City services

● Assure digital access and transparency to City forms, information, and records

● Encourage collaborative, collegial relationships among City Council members and with the City’s volunteer boards and commissions.

● Establish a Public Works Commission to advise Council on Department of Public Works priorities.


Carbondale has a City Manager form of government. 96 of Illinois’ almost 1300 municipalities have this form of government, over half of them having populations over 50,000. All forms of government have their strengths and weaknesses; the challenge is to assure competent, honest, and forward-looking City leadership, no matter the particular form a city, town, or village has. Work is needed to:

Clarify roles of City Council and City Manager

City Manager is the Chief Executive Officer

o Manages all day-to-day functions

o Provides staff support for Council initiatives

o Implements Council initiatives

o Brings staff initiatives to Council

Mayor and City Council set policies and priorities, oversee budget and expenditures

o Mayor and Council establish policy, enact legislation, authorize expenditures, and are responsible for other actions as provided in State law

o Mayor is responsible for promoting collegial, respectful, collaboration in

■ setting City’s priorities

■ engaging in strategic planning

■ addressing all members’ initiatives and concerns

■ coordinating with boards and commissions

o Mayor should work with the City Manager to bring forward Council members’ and staff initiatives in a timely manner.

o Mayor is the point person for Council with the City Manager and Public

o Mayor sees that the City Manager implements Council’s mandates

Businesses, when faced with economic hard times, must innovate and find efficiencies, or fail. While government can refuse to change, it is clear that Carbondale can no longer tax its way out of the fiscal cliff facing us. We must find efficiencies. We must change to meet these new conditions.

If Carbondale is to catch the next wave, it must vigorously move forward. We must encourage initiative, innovation, and engagement between City Hall and its constituents.


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