Letters To The Editor On Election, Candidates, Misc

Population Decline, Neighborhood Revitalization, and Video Gambling

Dear Editor:

     Decatur’s greatest challenge is its population decline. Since 2010, our population has decreased over 5% and the city is one of the ten fastest shrinking cities in the U.S. Population decline leads to reduced economic growth, labor shortages, and decreased revenue to provide public services. To reverse population decline it will take: high-paying jobs, a skilled labor force, and housing. City government can play a substantial role in housing and neighborhood revitalization to increase our population. The city’s neighborhood revitalization efforts to date have been underwhelming relative to the magnitude of the challenge ahead of us.

     In fall 2018, the city had over 300 houses that were unfit for human habitation, and the number of vacant housing units was nearly 4,500. Our property values have fallen as some neighborhoods decline and houses fall into disrepair. The city has also seen a significant rise in video gambling, and in 2018 there were 416 video gaming terminals in 87 establishments throughout Decatur. Our main thoroughfares contain large signs and flags in front of establishments welcoming guests to play slots while collectively diminishing one’s impression of our city. I am opposed to video gambling. The current mayor argues that video gambling in the city is needed to fund police officers and firefighters, and supports non-profit organizations.

     The city does not nor should it ever rely on our citizens’ gambling losses to support public services. Gambling revenue constitutes less than 3% of the city’s general fund revenue, and the city currently does not account for the negative societal costs it incurs from video gambling including crime, bankruptcy, and addiction. Furthermore, if the $29.2 million in gambling losses citizens incurred last year were instead used to purchase food and beverages at local establishments, the city would have received over $1.3 million in tax revenue. Our city may have entered a pattern in which our population declines, we accept revenue sources with significant societal costs, our neighborhoods decline, thus resulting in further population loss. A better approach is to create a more livable, vibrant, and healthy city that results in more people living in Decatur.

     The city of Decatur’s best asset is the people who live here. It is time to put the people of Decatur first and restore our city’s identity as a place where all 72,000 of our residents are proud to call home.

David Horn, Decatur

Why I Am Running For Decatur School Board

Dear Editor:

     When I became pregnant with my first son, people asked me when I would be moving from Decatur to get out of the school district. Three years later, when I was pregnant with my second child, I continued to be asked if our son would be going to a private school or if we were moving. Staying in Decatur didn’t seem to be an option. People were telling me that DPS wasn’t good enough. That wasn’t ok with me.

     Decatur has always been a special place to me. I’m working to create happy childhood memories for my children here in Decatur, but I also have a responsibility to guide them to a path for success. I do not define success by academic achievement alone, but also by collaboration, accountability, and compassion. My husband I have chosen to live and work in Decatur and to raise our family here. We also choose to build our city up, rather than put it down. I’m running for school board because I feel called to do more for Decatur.

     My commitment to the future of our schools is personal. When I drop Connor off to kindergarten in August, I want to know that I have done everything in my power to ensure that he has the best possible opportunities for success. But, it’s not just about my kids. It’s about all of our kids. And the success of my children hinges on the success of their fellow students, his teachers, and our community and the strength of our relationships. I will bring to the school board skills and experience as an attorney and I believe the district can benefit from my perspective; not just passionate advocacy, but my experience with mediation, contracts, governance, professional management, and strong leadership. I’ve demonstrated success as an employer and supervisor of a large staff and have proven that clients are best served by management approaches that motivate staff and bring out the best in employees and colleagues, so we can execute priorities together. These qualities and skills will all translate to the school board.

     Quality public education is our key to success. Every student’s path to success is not always straightforward. All of our students require understanding and support. I believe our district has made great strides and with my experience and strong work ethic, I can help us keep that momentum going. Our parents and community expect the school board to build a brighter future for our kids. On April 2nd, I hope you allow me the opportunity to serve you.

Regan Lewis, Decatur

Vote For Andrew Taylor For School Board

Dear Editor:

     Please consider casting your vote for Andrew Taylor for the Decatur School Board on April 2nd. Taylor is a Millikin University graduate and U.S. Navy veteran, and his service to his country and commitment to this community make him and ideal choice for election to this office. His work for the Economic Development Corporation is specifically geared toward the improvement of Decatur as a community. He and his colleagues at the EDC effort to grow Decatur’s resources and expand opportunity for all members of the public.

     Taylor knows first-hand how educational opportunity and endeavor lend themselves to professional success in both the labor and professional fields. He is committed to working toward a dynamic educational platform that genuinely boosts, rather than artificially inflates, DPS students’ academic performance and career preparation.

     As a veteran, citizen, and professional Andrew Taylor has diligently displayed his dedication to a life of service to his nation and community. As a husband, father, friend, and active participant at his church he has shown his character as a servant to individuals. He is a facilitator of relationships and a producer of genuine results in his endeavors.

     I have no doubt that he will bring these same principles of service, dedication, and productivity, and his respect for humanity to his work on the Decatur School Board.

Professor Samuel Meister, Millikin University Instructor of Communication

Farmers And Ranchers Are Backbone Of America

Dear Editor:

     Farmers and ranchers are the backbone of America. They grow food to feed us, fiber to clothe us, and fuel to run our homes and cars. Their hard work and dedication provide economic stability across the nation – stability that supports rural economies and creates much needed jobs in local communities. No matter who we are, where we live, or what we do, we all have a reason every day to celebrate and thank #ourfarmers. March 14 was designated as National Ag Day. On that day and every day, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Risk Management Agency (RMA) in Illinois join fellow agencies, nonprofits, private industries, and consumers in thanking our agricultural producers for there contributions to our nation and beyond.

     This year’s National Ag Day theme, Agriculture: Food for Life, spotlighted the hard work of American farmers and ranchers who diligently work to provide food and fiber for the United States and countries around the world. At USDA, our driving commitment is to support them as they put food on America’s tables. USDA works with millions of rural producers through a network of local service centers that serve every county. Our farmers face challenges each day, and we’re proud to offer a variety of programs to help hem fund their operations, manage risk, conserve natural resources, and recover from natural disasters.

     On behalf of USDA, we would like to thank #ourfarmers for feeding our nation and the world. To our farmers and ranchers: We are here to support you every step of the way. Visit your local service center for one-on-one support with USDA programs and services, or learn more at farmers.gov. On National Ag Day, and every other day of the year, we celebrate you.

William Graff, State Executive Director, Illinois Farm Service Agency; Ivan Dozier, State Conservationist, Natural Resources Conservation Service; Brian Frieden, Regional Director, Springfield Regional Office, Risk Management Agency

Vote For Gregory, Watkins, Moore Wolfe On April 2

Dear Editor:

     Gregory – Watkins for City Council. Moore Wolfe for Mayor. These are my choices for city council and mayor. Lisa Gregory has run on one agenda – move Decatur forward! I have found her to do her homework very well plus she won’t be out worked. Let’s give her another four years to help move Decatur forward!

     Marty Watkins is a person who will listen. It has been said in the last two years that Marty has attended more city council meetings than some of the current council members. Let’s give him a seat so he can work for us!

     Julie Moore Wolfe has been working very hard to keep Decatur moving forward. She has relationships in Springfield and Washington. They hear from her often. Thanks for your time! Please join me in voting for Gregory, Watkins and Moore Wolfe moving Decatur forward.

David D. Wilhour, Decatur

Andrew Taylor Is Ideal Candidate For

Decatur School Board

Dear Editor

     I have known Andrew Taylor for a number of years, and he is one of the kindest, hardworking, enthusiastic, and helpful people I know. It is these qualities, along with countless others, that make Andrew Taylor the ideal candidate to serve on the Decatur Public School Board. Were he elected, I know Andrew would do everything possible to help move Decatur Public Schools towards a bright and limitless future. His work as an Economic Development Officer is not just a job for Andrew, it is his passion. Every time I see him, Andrew boasts about the city of Decatur, the progress it has made and the possibilities it has on the horizon, almost as though this city were a child of his own.

     It is this kind of enthusiasm, care, and involvement that Decatur Public Schools needs to overcome the challenges facing the district. With a background in statistics, Andrew uses data to figure out what works and what doesn’t. This is the same approach he’d take on the Decatur Public School Board, using all the data available to find the best path forward, for not only the district as a whole, but for the variety of different students within the district.

     Andrew will work diligently to provide the keys to success to all students, those attending college, those pursuing a trade, those directly entering the workforce, and beyond. Andrew Taylor is what the Decatur Public Schools, and this city, needs. Someone who deeply cares about, and wants to better this city. Someone who is passionate about this city’s successes and opportunities on the horizon. Someone that understands the foundation for the future of this city is the education we provide our children, no matter where they come from, or what life holds in store for them. That is why, on April 2nd, 2019, I will be voting for Andrew Taylor for DPS #61, and I encourage you in the strongest possible terms to do so as well.

Adam Scircle, Decatur

Vote For Regan Lewis For Decatur School Board

Dear Editor:

     I am a practicing attorney in Decatur. As you know, Regan Lewis is running for Decatur Public School Board. I have known Regan both personally and professionally for over five years. She is one of the hardest working people I know, and has tremendous integrity. I have seen Regan get involved in many community activities. She actively promotes the City of Decatur and all it has to offer. I know she is a strong proponent of our public school system, and if she is elected, will use the opportunity to bring positive change to the public school system.

     Regan has many qualities that would be an asset to the School Board, including patience, fairness and compassion. She is excited about the opportunity to serve the School Board, and will bring energy and passion as a board member. I urge you to vote to elect Regan Lewis to the Decatur Public School Board and give her the opportunity to let her outstanding qualities serve Decatur and its public school system.

Katie Anderson, Decatur

Andrew Taylor Is Exceptional Candidate For School Board

Dear Editor:

    This year, we voters are fortunate to have several good choices to represent us on the Decatur Public School Board. I urge you to cast one of your three votes for Andrew Taylor, an exceptionally well qualified candidate in his first political race. With a solid educational and professional background, Andrew will bring a strong sense of fairness and positive energy to DPS. As the Economic Development Officer for the Decatur & Macon County Economic Development Corporation, Andrew spends his workdays promoting Decatur as a great place to live, work, and invest your future. He passionately believes that public education is the centerpiece of any community’s efforts to attract and retain residents. He will work to improve the quality of DPS’s offerings for its students. Because he is by trade a statistical analyst, he will insist on measuring students’ progress and seek ways they can demonstrate their learning beyond regimented standardized testing. Andrew Taylor deserves the support of all who care about our community’s future.

Fred Spannaus, Decatur 

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