Editor's Note: This is the second of two stories profiling the candidates for City Council, with the first story published on Saturday. The stories are part of a series of profiles for city contested races and referendum that are on the April 9 Consolidated Election ballot.
MT. VERNON — Four candidates and one write-in candidate are on Tuesday's ballot for two city council seats.
In order as they appear on the ballot, the candidates are incumbent Dennis McEnaney, Donte Moore, David Morgan, incumbent Todd Piper and write-in candidate Steven Casper.
Morgan said he is running for the city council because residents are in need of a new kind of leadership.
"The people are in want and need of a new kind of leadership that includes the citizen having a solidified say in city matters," Morgan said. "The citizen will have the ability to vote on issues through my social media sites and phone bi-weekly."
Morgan said he has thousands of people on his social media sites that are Mt. Vernon residents.
"I will be employed full time to the position, monitoring thousands of votes, by citizens through polls conducted," Morgan said.
Morgan said his platform includes several points.
"Give citizens a say in decisions I make by bi-weekly vote," Morgan said. "Follow budget-book and eliminate wasteful spending; never raise property taxes; bring jobs; protect children and schools from gun violence; raise fire department staff; cut energy costs putting more on to local markets."
Morgan said a vote for him is a vote for leadership by the people.
"The citizen will be able to vote on issues bi-weekly before I make decisions," Morgan said. "This is how I plan to restore your confidence in the city hall and together we will set a standard for the rest of the nation. I will be elected by the people and for the people at all times."
Piper and his wife Gail are the parents of two boys, both students at Casey Middle School.
"I am proud of the pst four years service as a city councilman," Piper said. "I believe that the Mt. Vernon Comprehensive Plan is a valuable tool for Mt. Vernon's future growth."
Piper has served on the YMCA board; the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce internal affairs and promotions committee; the DMDC; was involved in the Comprehensive Plan creation and implementation promotions committee; part of the Southern Illinois Trails Committee; the Mt. Vernon Festivals Committee; Fall Fest; the Max Hoopster 3-on-3 basketball festival; Big Brothers/Big Sisters; and the Mt. Vernon Parks Committee.
Piper said the most important issue facing the city council is the redevelopment of neighborhoods, downtown Mt. Vernon re-development; attracting new neighborhood developers and creating a better place to live.
"I am excited for the opportunity to serve Mt. Vernon," Piper said. "I will focus on quality of life issues for the citizens of Mt. Vernon. I am proud of my hometown and excited for the future."
If elected to another term, Piper said he will continue to follow the Comprehensive Plan and focus on the downtown area for development.
Casper has filed as a write in candidate for city council.
"I believe in real democracy, not one-sided power, or some form of government that on its face looks and claims to be a democracy, but removes the rights of its people to vote, to decide for themselves how they will fund their local government," Casper said. "We have that form of limited democracy in Mt. Vernon today. If elected, I will do what I can to return us to a full democracy where the people can feel like it's okay to be fully involved."
Casper said his qualifications include being able to see the downfalls of over spending.
"I have the time to give, and a desire to serve," Casper said. "Living as a disabled person, I have learned to do without, and I am not power hungry. I have owned my own business in the past and had to make tough decisions. I raised two of my three children by myself — more tough decisions — as any single parent could tell you, I believe in growth with reason, not just growth for growth sake. We all want our town to grow and have good high paying jobs, but to grow at a cost that is unbearable to so many is not what I will be voting for as one of your councilmen."
Casper said reducing debt spending is among the issues facing the city council.
"How to reduce debt spending, cutting costs and keeping taxes low for the good of all citizens," Casper said. "Growing Mt. Vernon through leadership, not bribes to cooperations from our collected taxes, tax dollars are not intended to be misused in this way, but there is a lobbying group right here in this town, that gets weak city leaders to hand over our money to these cooperation's with very little if any real benefit to most citizen; such as in the 25 year Drury Inn tax give-away deal. Yes, you are going to help pay for the New Drury Inn through higher taxes over the next 25 years."
Casper said if elected to council, he would be a true public servant.
"I will be a true public servant," Casper said. "I will represent you for free or donate my pay to local charities; I do this because I do not want to ever think of this as my career. I iwill vote yes to limit Home Rule and work to end it in the future. I will only vote yes to reducing the city's debt spending. No new taxes. I will not vote yes for a sales tax increase without a referendum vote; I do this because increases should not be needed, tax revenue has a built in increase by simple inflation as prices raise per dollar of taxation goes up. I will not vote yes for any new bond sales without a referendum vote; unless a disaster hits our town, then this form of taxation may be needed, but I stress that word, 'may.' I will not vote yes for cooperation tax give aways of your sale tax or property tax dollars. I will not vote yes for property tax increases greater than 5 percent or the CPI, whichever is less without a referendum."
Casper said he appreciates the opportunity for his views to be heard.
"I understand there was a forum held on the 26th, I was unaware of this event until the morning of the 26th, where I found a note on my front door placed there by Amanda Bean, candidate for township supervisor, asking me if I had received an invitation to the ball," Casper said. "I called her and told her I had not, I don't know why she and I did not get the notice. I do know that Mrs. Bean was at the forum, as she knows one of the persons holding the event, and I can only assume she had more notice than I. However, with any decision I make I am not going to be pushed into doing anything I am not prepared for, or had timely knowledge of, I also will not go around pointing my finger and saying things were done deliberately, not without knowing for a fact. What happened may have been a simple oversight, or misdirected, or lost mail. You the voters will have to decide how important the forum on the 26th was to you and your decision in who you will vote for in one of the two open council seats."