Rockford needs bold new leadership willing to collaborate with citizens and stakeholders to create solutions to our problems. Like all Rockford citizens, I am invested in this community as a father, husband, and businessman. We all want Rockford to succeed, but that cannot happen with more “my way or the highway” leadership.
Rockford has serious problems and they will not be easy to solve. We cannot wait for help from Springfield or Washington where our legislatures are gridlocked in partisan politics. It is up to us to create our own solutions.
I see our challenges as a great opportunity for civic engagement, not just for elected officials but for all of Rockford’s citizens. We must work together to maximize our local resources—and Rockford’s best resource is its people. For Rockford to succeed, each and every citizen must have access to quality education, good paying jobs, and safe neighborhoods.
We are a City with enormous potential, but we have a lot of work ahead of us. I am proud to live in Rockford. As your Mayor, I will work tirelessly to make you proud of Rockford, too.
We will not tolerate crime. To improve public safety, we need to be both creative and vigilant. We need more police out in our neighborhoods walking our streets and building relationships with residents. As Mayor, I will work with law enforcement to make sure that violent offenders are taken off the streets and put behind bars where they belong.
At the same time, we need to address crime at its roots. We need to be proactive in preventing crime before it happens. With my background in the nonprofit sector, I am keenly aware of new and innovative programs for our youth which deter and prevent criminal behavior. As Mayor, I will implement and expand these proactive programs to reduce crime. I will also work to lower recidivism with reentry programs that are critical for probationers and parolees to become productive members of society.
I will be relentless in tackling our mental health crisis and drug abuse epidemic. As Mayor, the City will work with community partners to offer services to low-level offenders who are addicted to drugs and alcohol or who are suffering from mental illness to treat their problems so that they do not turn back to crime.
We must also address our domestic violence problem. Domestic violence accounts for 24% of calls for service and 25% of our violent crime. They are the police department’s longest calls for service and are the most dangerous for our responding officers. The City must take steps to curb domestic violence through education and must work with community organizations to provide wrap-around services to protect victims and their families from further abuse.
In order solve our public safety issues, we must take a holistic approach to stop crime at its source so that our police department and prosecutors can focus their resources on taking violent criminals off the streets.
There is nothing more important to our City than the safety of our citizens.
As Mayor, I will strengthen neighborhoods by reducing taxes, investing in infrastructure, and tackling blight. The foundation of our community is our neighborhoods. The key to strong neighborhoods is home ownership. Our property taxes are simply too high to attract and keep homeowners. As 3rd Ward Alderman, I have fought to keep the City’s tax levy flat for the last three years. The City has now kept its levy flat for 3 years in a row for the first time in 40 years. But it is not enough to keep taxes flat. We must lower them. As Mayor, not only will I work to reduce the City’s taxes, I will appoint board members to our local taxing bodies who are fiscally responsible and share a like-minded responsibility to reduce the tax burden on our citizens.
The City must do more to invest in our neighborhoods. As Alderman, I created and sponsored legislation to help spur home ownership. I sponsored the residential owner-occupied tax rebate program, which allows single-family owner-occupied homeowners who purchase and renovate foreclosed or homes in short sale to have their City taxes rebated for three years. I also worked with the Rockford School District and Rockford Park District to expand the program to those taxing bodies as well. I also sponsored the mow-to-own program. Under this program, property owners who maintain and improve vacant City-owned lots adjacent to their homes are eligible to purchase the properties using only sweat equity at zero or substantially reduced cost.
These programs will encourage home ownership, stabilize neighborhoods, reduce blight, increase property values, and ease the tax burden on Rockford’s citizens. The City must do more to promote and expand these programs.
We must also be smarter about investing in our infrastructure. Our current formula for spending on infrastructure arbitrarily spreads funds throughout the City and is not based on use or need. As Mayor, I will make our formula more efficient in order to ensure that funds are actually directed to areas that need improvements the most.
As 3rd Ward Alderman representing downtown Rockford, I have worked to create an entrepreneurial climate to stimulate small business growth. Our hard work has paid off and downtown has seen a period of economic revitalization. However, we need to advance economic opportunities throughout the entire City. As Mayor, I will prioritize our economic development incentives to enhance business opportunities with long-term growth potential to create stable jobs with livable wages.
As Alderman, I created an Ad-Hoc committee to develop and implement uniform guidelines for Rockford’s TIF districts. Previously, the City had no objective criteria for awarding TIF funds to developers. Consequently, the City made high risk investments that ultimately cost the City money. Under my leadership, the City now has an objective criteria for scoring TIF applications and only allows “pay as you go” TIFs, meaning developers can only receive funds as they are accrued in the TIF. In addition, developers using TIF funds are no longer able to contest their taxes. The guidelines also allow the City to prioritize developments it approves for TIF money.
The City must do more to support local businesses and entrepreneurs that want to open or expand new businesses in Rockford. For too long, City regulations have stifled economic development. I will foster business development rather than impede it by streamlining the permitting process and cutting bureaucratic red tape.
While schools are independent of City government, they are not independent of our community. The futures of our schools and our City are intricately tied together. As Mayor, I will increase collaboration between the City and schools to boost our number of college graduates. It is critical for our mutual success. Quality education is directly related to higher income.
I will work with local private sector businesses to create partnerships with our college-bound students. We also need to invest in a vocational center to provide after school training programs for those students who feel college is not the right fit for them. Investing in education is critical to our economic development.
Rockford has begun its comeback. However, there is much more work to be done. Together, we can solve our problems by bringing everyone to the table to create new solutions. That is the type of leadership I have brought as 3rd Ward Alderman and that is the type of leadership I will bring as your Mayor.
These priorities are distinct issues we face together but they are interrelated and must be addressed in a comprehensive manner. For example, we can stimulate job creation but not attract people to live in Rockford if we have under-performing schools or high levels of crime.
Rockford has begun its comeback. However, there's much more to be done. Together, we can address these issues by bringing everyone to the table and being open to new ideas. That's the type of leadership I've brought as Third Ward Alderman and that's the type of leadership I'll bring as your Mayor.