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Peoria City Council Candidate Forums 2017

March 28, 2017

To help educate voters on the environmental issues that matter to them, the Global Warming Solutions Group hosted 2 candidate forums.

Mayor Ardis was invited to both forums but was unable to attend either. Instead he sent his written responses. View the PDF with Mayor Jim Ardis’ responses >>.  Couri Thomas had submitted written responses per our request for the first forum. View the PDF with Couri Thomas’ responses >>.

The first Forum invited all 6 At-Large and 3 Mayoral candidates running in the primary (that was held on Feb 27, 2017). The second forum invited all 6 District and 2 Mayoral candidates that will be on the consolidated general election to be held on Tuesday, 4/4/17. Early voting is underway. In these low turnout elections, one of the primary races was decided by a single vote.

Here is the list of questions from the second forum, many of which were similar to the first one. Due to time constraints not all were asked and some were combined.

GLOBAL WARMING

Do you believe in human-caused climate change?

RENEWABLES

In the past, Peoria has saved residents money and supported 100% green energy through its municipal electrical aggregation program. How should the city build on this success?

State Senator Dave Koehler was a lead sponsor of legislation to reform Illinois energy policy. The final legislation passed in December in the General Assembly includes a funding stream for community solar development. How should Peoria position itself to seize its rightful share of funding and the associated green jobs?

ENERGY EFFICIENCY

Should the city have policies for measuring the energy efficiency of municipal buildings and working to lower its utility bills?

Other cities use revolving loan funds and similar financial tools to incentivize energy efficiency improvements in older building stock. Should the city have a similar program? Should it be used as a tool to revitalize struggling neighborhoods?

CLEAN AIR

Burning coal for electricity generates climate-warming greenhouse gases and respiratory irritants like sulfur dioxide. The air quality in Peoria is among the worst in the state, per the Illinois and U.S. Environmental Protection Agencies due to high sulfur dioxide levels. A major source of emissions is the aging Edwards coal-fired power plant five miles south of Peoria. Edwards has no scrubbers to capture the pollution which disproportionately impacts Peoria’s poorest zip codes. What action should the city take?

TRASH AND RECYCLING

Do you personally recycle at your home?

Do we need improvements in residential and/or commercial recycling in Peoria?

The city currently has its most expensive contract with Peoria Disposal Company for hauling trash and recycling. Recycling can be a good source of entry-level green jobs. Yet the contract does not have a provision for minority hiring. Should there be one?

COMBINED SEWER OVERFLOW

The city is obligated to reduce its combined sanitary and storm sewer system’s harmful discharges into the Illinois River. The current proposal uses water-absorbing landscaping such as bioswales, native plantings, innovative paving and other green solutions rather than constructing larger sewers and adding storage tanks.

Do you support continuing to pursue a green solution to address combined sewage overflow?

How can we ensure these green jobs go to city residents most in need of employment?

RIVER TRAIL APARTMENTS

In December 2016, council extended for the fourth time the contract deadline for the River Trails apartment complex in Constitution Park. After many months, a complicated land swap proposed by the city still has not been approved by the National Park Service. Council chambers were filled many times by people opposed to the project, and over 1000 petition signatures in opposition were presented. To date no ground has been broken.

Would you support council action, such as denying future contract extensions, to stop the building of apartments in Riverfront Park?

A major objection was the taking of public park land with no accounting for its natural and recreational value. How should loss of green space and other negative sustainability impacts be avoided in economic development?

LEAD

One study a few years back showed lead levels in Peoria’s children to be the highest in the nation. Peoria has been partnering with the county to address this. The recent Trump budget proposes eliminating Community Block Grants which Peoria uses to fund its lead remediation work. What should be done if CBG funding falls through?

Missed the Forums?

Both were broadcast live on Facebook and are available there to watch.

March 27 Forum with District and Mayoral Candidates

  • 1st District Candidates Attending:
    • Helen King read Denise Moore’s answers because she couldn’t attend due to laryngitis
    • Dave Berry
  • 4th District Candidates Attending:
    • Jim Montelongo
    • (did not attend) Mike Eddelmon was expected but sent last minute regrets
  • 5th District Candidates Attending:
    • Denis Cyr
    • Rita Ali
  • Mayoral Candidates Attending:

February 27 Forum with At-Large and Mayoral Primary Candidates

At-Large City Council Candidates Attending:

  • Robert Hanauer
  • Sid Ruckriegel
  • Scott Kelsey (eliminated in the primary)
  • (did not attend) Amr Elsamny (eliminated in the primary)
  • (did not attend) Zach Oyler
  • (did not attend) John Kelly

Mayoral Candidates Attending:

  • Couri Thomas
  • G. Marie Kennel (eliminated in the primary)
  • (did not attend) Jim Ardis

 

Feb turnout

Attendees at the Feb 27 Primary Forum

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