Third District candidates speak out

Staff Writer
Woodford Times

Beth Akeson

Age: 54

Party Affiliation: I am a registered Republican. I consider myself to be fiscally conservative and a moderate on social issues. When voting I base my decisions on whom I believe to be the best candidate.

Educational background: Whitman College, Walla Walla, Washington (1972-76) majored in political science and economics; University of Washington (1976-78) studied business and art history

Political Experience:

2009 - First time city council candidate

2007 - Peoria School Board candidate 2nd District

2005- Re-appointed by Mayor Ardis to Heart of Peoria Commission

2004 - Appointed by Mayor Ransburg to the Heart of Peoria Commission

Appointed Offices Held: Vice-chairman Heart of Peoria Commission

Your platform: Our neighborhoods must be safe and secure; tax dollars must be spent wisely and city policy must be aligned with priorities to foster quality of life for all.

Why those issues: Government’s primary responsibility is to provide for citizen safety while at the same time managing tax revenues wisely and providing a climate for economic growth. When these conditions are met, our quality of life improves and we prosper.

What do you do that your opponents cannot, or cannot do as well as you: I am qualified to represent the 3rd District because I am a collaborator, problem solver, and a community resource. Often officials and neighborhood leaders have asked for my help while trying to solve city problems.

   I am motivated to improve Peoria and I have demonstrated my commitment through community involvement and work on the Heart of Peoria Commission. In addition to my college studies of economics and my business experience, I have studied urban issues for years.

   I have studied how cities function and use this as a basis from which to make decisions. I am aware of how both the little and big decisions made today will impact the future of our city.

   This foundation of knowledge allows me to see through expensive, ineffective “magic-bullet” theories for city revitalization and focus on long-term, time-tested methods of urban planning that will lead to revitalization.

   Additionally, I understand Peoria’s future is dependent on strong schools and vital neighborhoods. I was an active voice during the Glen Oak School debate. I entered the school board race in 2007 showing my commitment and knowledge about education and school siting issues. In order for Peoria to have a successful public school system the city council and the school board must recognize their decisions are codependent.

   My vision is to make the city accessible and dignified for everyone, regardless of where they reside. I do the work necessary to be informed and work towards consensus. I make the phone calls, visit the sites, seek out expert advice, talk to the people who live in affected areas, liberally share information and more importantly, I listen.

   Peoria can be more than it is today. While there are no quick fixes and change is difficult, I am not deterred by cynics nor will I bend to the pressures of special interests. I am willing and able to work as a full time city council person and I am not seeking this position as a stepping stone to higher office.

What do you promise the voters:

I promise to:

• be fiscally responsible with taxpayer dollars

• respond quickly to constituents needs

• listen and be open to concerns and ideas and include citizens in the decision making process

• do my homework and share what I learn

• be proactive rather than reactive regarding city issues

• work collectively with all interests to create solutions

• be willing to question the status quo and not be intimidated

• hold district meetings to provide a way for people to come together

• work to solve problems through the success of others

• be transparent and not be swayed by special interest

• build on local pride spotlighting the many amenities we have in the 3rd District.

• respect and promote our history and our historic structures

• support city staff when they give sound advice

• treat fellow council members respectfully

• ask for help when there is something I do not know

• say I do not know when I do not know

• not waste people’s time with an oratory when a simple “Yes, I agree” or “No, I do not agree”

will suffice.

Is Peoria headed in the right direction, and explain why you feel it is or is not: Peoria has a large and diverse group of people willing to devote time and effort to improve the city. We have abundant natural resources with the river and the bluffs — setting the stage for distinction in the Midwest. We have local leaders now on the national stage. We have a respected private University; we have several small community based colleges offering technical and two year degrees, we have a strong medical community and medical school; we are home to a Fortune 500 corporation, several publically traded businesses and many privately held successful companies; we have a well developed arts and cultural community.

We have many fine parochial and private schools and several award winning public schools.

Conversely our city has many problems.

We have a high incidence of juvenile crime, a high ratio of rental properties to owner occupied, increasing numbers of Section 8 housing, unfettered urban sprawl putting stress on city services, higher than average teen age pregnancies, limited mass transportation options, a struggling urban school district, above average lead paint problems and a looming combined sewer overflow issue.

   We can do more to harness the power of our citizens. I believe too many decisions are made in isolation and many influential groups operate in silos. At the risk of using a cliché we are only as strong as our weakest link.

   Without the strength of our city’s inner core, our city in total will not thrive. City leaders must recognize that what we have been doing thus far is not producing the results we would like.

   Land annexation has led to sprawl and has not proven to be the benefit it was thought to be. Peoria has increased significantly in geographical land area but not in population. The TIF districts have not produced the expected peripheral development.

   The United States in currently undergoing economic hardship, but at some point the economy will rebound and boom again. Peoria needs to take the opportunity to prepare itself for this time. We can position ourselves to “build advantage” to borrow a phrase from Richard Florida so that we can compete with cities across the nation not just across the river.

Why do you want this job:

   City policy, ordinances and appropriations set the foundation for city outcomes. The city council is responsible for all three. I have been effective as a community volunteer, but to be the most successful you have to be involved early in the policy conversations and debate. I want to represent the people who live in the 3rd District, to advocate for quality of life issues, and to advance the ideals as described in the Heart of Peoria Plan.

Kelley C. McGownd-Mammen

Age: 55 

Party affiliation: I vote for the person not the party.  I vote for Democrats and Republicans.

Educational background: My educational background includes an associates degree in administration of criminal justice from I.C.C., a bachelors from Bradley in administration of criminal justice and a Master’s in human development counseling from Bradley.

Political experience:  I was a downstate paid political organizer for Paul Simon on several elections and worked campaigns from Richard Nixon to Richard Olgilvie to Ronald Reagan and most in between.

Offices held: I have not held a political office but during college I was president of my sociology club for two years, a member of Black Student Alliance and many more clubs.

Your platform: Platform  is an old concept.  I don’t think you even hear it anymore.  In the good old days the platform was what the major parties had agreed upon on there major issues and then they would vote on it and work on it at the convention.    

   The preidential candidates would almost always agree what was set forth in front of them.

   For me I will do what I need to do. My concerns are crime, economics, T.I.F.’s.  What the 3rd District constiuents bring forward is what my concerns will be based on.

What can you do that your opponents cannot, or cannot do as well as you: I am lucky that I do have an excellant education and one of the others doesn’t sound like she has any such education and one has a bachelor’s in financing. My education dealt with people and consesus and that as a council person is what I will need. I am not a standoffish person. I am someone that can carry on a conversation with anyone and feels at home with everyone. I will go from one end of the 3rd District to the other and feel right at home. 

   I dare the others to go into the worse areas and work with those people. I will I have and I will do it again. I have done a tremendous amount of volunteer work with children and family’s. My work has been dealing with life and death issues, people and what they have and don’t have. My volunterrism hasn’t dealt with the high crowd of opera’s and that upscale living. I have worked for and with all the people.  How many people can attend these functions — not me.

What do you promise the voters: I will promise them that if I commit to four years I will stay four years. I won’t go after another position until I have done what I committed to do — four years.

   If something else cacthes my eye I will go after after my commitment to the 3rd District until it has been fulfilled. The only way I will leave is a body bag or if I decide to run with Sarah Palin as her V.P.

   Besides that I will work fulltime, I will work my hardest and I will do what I can to help make this a better community.  That is all I can promise.

Is Peoria headed in the right direction, and explain why you feel it is or is not: With the economic conditions the way they are right now I think it is too early to tell.  A lot is riding on what the president does and what we do with stimulus money and until that is taken care I think we are playing a waiting game as to how Peoria is doing — doing better than some not as good as others.

Why do you want this job: I want this job because not like the other candidates I have raised my children to be adults with youngest being 28. I made myself avaliable to them as children. I am a firm believer of being a stay at home mother until my children were close to being out of high school.

   My children are my biggest joy and I would do nothing to compromise that. I never missed a baseball game, a swimming meet, a soccer game or anything they were involved with. I traveled with each one of them at one time or another to parts of the world taking one at a time for quality mother child time.

   Since I have done all that and put them first in their educational years now is my time and they support me. Even as adults they can always get ahold of me and do. When they lived at home I was and still am there for them. Others still have children at home and I hate to see them missing a parent. I never left my children with a sitter. If I wasn’t home my husband was. I feel that is why they are so successful today and they reiterate that to me all the time telling me I was always there for them.

   I believe in this community and believe that you put back especially when you take out and I have done that and am still doing that. I want to put back on a larger scale and I can do it.

Timothy D. Riggenbach

Age: 50

Party affiliation: Republican.

Educational background: unanswered

Political experience: Peoria County Board member since 2002.

Chairman of the Finance & Legislative Study Committee since 2004.

Your platform: My platform is simple, crime reduction … revitalize the core neighborhoods … consensus leadership. 

We need to focus in on crime because all the discussions we have about the schools and neighborhood issues revolve around this one. We need to get the stakeholders together, residents and business owners, schools and churches.   Let’s see what has worked (saturation patrols, cameras in squad cars) and let’s take it to the next level.

Why those issues:  The 3rd District is full of neighborhoods. We need to make sure that the heart of the city gets healthy. There are a lot of challenges but my commitment is clear; my family lives in Bournedale (a1950s neighborhood) our kids go to District 150 schools and our church, Riverside Community Church, is involved in outreach with community groups throughout the district.

What can you do that your opponents cannot, or cannot do as well as you: Consensus leadership is a fancy word for working well with people. Bob Michel is definitely a role model for me. On the county board, I have a reputation for working with Democrats and Republicans, management and labor. You see it really is about doing the right thing for our community and it doesn’t matter who gets the credit.

People should vote for me because I have a proven track record of doing the very things I promise. It is easy to talk but results speak for themselves. 

The county was borrowing money to make payroll when I joined the board we will end the year with roughly $50,000.  

The property tax rate was over 88 cents now it just over 80 cents. We have a good working relationship with our bargaining units.  These things don’t just happen, leaders make them happen.

What do you promise the voters: I promise the voters that I will represent them honestly and fairly. I will be their voice for crime reduction and to make our core neighborhoods safe. I will build bridges to all in our community to help revitalize the city.

Is Peoria headed in the right direction, and explain why you feel it is or is not: I believe there are a lot of good things happening in our city. I believe Mayor Ardis and councilman Manning have helped put Peoria on the right trajectory.  Can more be done? Absolutely. By working together, I do believe greater things can still be accomplished.

Why do you want this job: I want this job because I want my daughters to have a better Peoria. I have met so many awesome kids through school events; I want to make sure that these kids have every opportunity to fulfill their personal dreams.