How long have you been a council member?
Nearly seven years.
Who or what inspired your desire to seek office?
My two children deserve a great community. The hope is that someday they and their peers might aspire to stay, live, and work here themselves. Sometimes we’re so busy that we forget how exciting the American experiment—our free and democratic republic—really is.
What’s been the most challenging issue you’ve faced as a Peoria City Council member?
The biggest challenge is keeping all of our attention fixed on long-term and strategic success. Constant pressures force a great deal of time invested in short-term, tactical agendas, but the transformational change we hope to achieve results from planning beyond the horizon.
What’s your “pet issue”?
Economic growth. We must concentrate on ways that help stimulate private investment and private innovation. Most importantly, we must attract, keep, and encourage the people who provide the business investment, workforce skills, community involvement, and their values.
What issue are you looking forward to tackling soon as a council member?
We really need to see ourselves as a learning community, and we need to promote everything that will make it so. By encouraging a community where knowledge is valued at every turn and for every person, Peoria will become very attractive to the people we need to grow our economy.
Is there a common misperception about you or council members in general that you’d like to clear up?
The council is filled with some extraordinary people, each of whom brings a unique perspective and seems to me to care deeply about the city.
What are the keys to a successful future for Peoria? How can the council help?
People. Real growth for Peoria and the region will come from investing in attracting, keeping, and improving the quality of who we are as a people. Let’s consider how we get the skills, knowledge, energy, and innovators we need.
What advice do you have for members of the public who want to be part of city decisions?
Get involved. Send e-mails through the city’s web site. Call the council members. Read the news. Most of all, vote. When you vote in local elections, you feel a different sense of ownership in what goes on in the city, and you make a difference.
What does your political future hold?
The plan is to be involved in public service in some capacity for as long as I’m able. That might be elected office, and it might be service in other ways.
How do you balance your time between council work with your career and family?
My work as vice president for development at public television station WTVP affords me an opportunity to learn much from CEO Chet Tomczyk and work closely with the finest non-profit board and volunteer leaders in town. My wife, Cindy, is a very organized person and deserves public credit for holding the fort together. She’s involved in many activities, yet she helps make sure our family gets everywhere we need to go.
What’s surprised you most since becoming an elected official?
Much of the present is linked to the big decisions of the past, yet we need to realize the importance of turning points of the present. Who isn’t energized and engaged because of the visions for a more attractive city that are all around us since the new millennium? Today’s calendar is replete with turning points.
Do you think televised meetings help or hinder council proceedings?
Television coverage does more good than harm. Even though it encourages council and those who address us to engage in grandstanding, it’s far more beneficial to have open government. In fact, the city should use its cable access channel even more, perhaps by producing content that helps citizens, allowing access to specific meetings or speeches that would be of value. IBI