Mayoral Forum You Decide

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BY CALEB ALEXANDER

            Three men running for mayor in New Baden met with citizens at the American Legion to present their views and answer questions. All were sincere in expressing their thoughts, opinions and feelings. They also answered questions from people present in the audience.

One candidate, Rafael Him, stood out from the others as our recommendation for the best choice. This is because of the way he generated more specific ideas he shared for improving the village. The other two showed their dedication to the village but did not offer any definite ways to make it better like Him did.

            Randy Linthicum and Taylor Zurliene currently serve as village board trustees. Him has experience as a village trustee and Clinton County Board member.

            In alphabetical order, here is a capsule rundown of various comments from each of them:

RAFAEL HIM

–22 year veteran of the United States Air Force with experience flying combat missions;

–People are suffering because of the coronavirus pandemic so a 6.34% tax increase at this time, like what the village board approved in December, is not a good move;  “Every time taxes are increased it takes away a bit of everyone’s freedom.”

–We need to help our businesses grow and prosper so taxes on residents won’t be so high;

–One of the first things I would do as mayor is freeze spending to stay out of debt and develop a long-range strategic plan to help control the budget;

–Back our police officers, they are going through hell all over the USA now;

–Stop the continued spending, spending, spending. Cut back so everyone can work together for the common good;

–Look for solutions to the costs of running government. When I was on the Clinton County Board, I was able to consolidate government by sharing the Health Department Administrator.   He also saved the county money when the GIS Committee replaced the outgoing department head with a contractor.  It is thinking outside the box that help save taxpayers money;

–Give people their freedom from government control, reduce restrictions and leave decisions up to individuals who are responsible for their own actions, allow freedom of speech. I believe in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights;

–You can’t keep people locked up, we have to live our lives, you can’t shut down society. We need to do more thinking to discover how to open things up, find new ways for addressing the pandemic like using more Plexiglass;

–Don’t like TIF districts because people use them to get tax breaks then later sell the properties to make a profit instead for themselves;

–Work together with other governments. The townships have road equipment so why not share some of the work in the village with them or partner with neighbor Trenton on projects;

            –Will not accept a salary if elected as mayor, pledging to abide by a “contract with the people” about cutting spending, keeping taxes down and setting term limits for those who are elected. I am going to do everything possible to keep from raising taxes;

            –Why not take the $192,000 that was budgeted for the automated water meter reading system and use it to make needed infrastructure improvements?

 

RANDY LINTHICUM

–Born in St. Louis, Wesclin High School graduate, United States Navy veteran with experience in the evacuation of Saigon and a conflict in Libya. Retired in 1993, was one of the biggest contractors in Phoenix, Arizona out of about 50 before moving back here; 

–I feel I can make a difference, people are tired of seeing things being handled the same way for years, their taxes going up every year; 

–Against spending for things we don’t have to have, that are not priorities like a new police/fire station. We don’t really need a fancy water meter reading system that $192,000 was budgeted for and more money would be needed in the future. I voiced my opinion against the water meter reading system. We didn’t get handed a piece of paper saying this is what would happen, the scope of the work to be done with the water meters; 

–Opponent Taylor Zurliene voted against Kokomo Joe’s gaming license and Shell but the board passed it, Kokomo Joe’s is a much nicer place now. Taylor also voted for marijuana sales in the village. If you are against gaming or liquor licenses but for marijuana distribution, I don’t think those two things mix; 

–I voted against the budget last year but three or more village board members saying yes was needed to approve it and it was. I can only vote for myself. I can’t control what the board does;

–The Clinton County Health Department is in control of the vaccine program, not the village. Why does a town like Bartelso get the same amount of vaccinations as new Baden when it is about a third of the size? 

–I’ve been raising heck about cracks in our roads that need to be fixed before they continue to deteriorate and get worse.

 

TAYLOR ZURLIENE 

–Lived in New Baden all my life, been married five years, two children. We are here to take care of our kids’ futures. 

–Bachelors degree from SIU Carbondale in 2012, recently received masters degree in public administration from Louisiana State University at Shreveport;

–Appointed to village board in 2016 then ran for reelection unopposed in 2017 and 2019;

–Chairman of village board finance committee since appointment as trustee and learned a lot about budget since then; 

–Village had a large increase in insurance rates the past year, taxes can go up even without a levy increase if assessed valuations increase, a very important distinction to understand; 

–No definite decision has been made yet on the automated water meter reading system, still getting bids and gathering information on this subject;

–We are looking at ways to use technology to operate the village more efficiently, do cost analysis and compare what is being spent with what benefits would result from something like the water meter conversion;

–The fire station has been around since the early 1990s, the population has gone up, more equipment is required now, government regulations have changed, those are reasons a new building could be needed; 

–Money has to be set aside to plan for the future so if a new building is needed, there will be something there to help pay for it; 

–Village has spent $25,000 for patch sealing on streets this year and has $25,000 budgeted for it next year plus $200,000 budgeted for repairing/replacing Christopher and Hillside streets; 

–Voted against 3 new sources of revenue. Voted against a liquor license for Wooden Mouth in December because it was bad timing due to the coronavirus pandemic. Voted against gaming licenses for Kokomo Joe’s and Shell because it creates an image that is not good for the town but voted to approve Marijuana sells in the village. I am not against alcohol consumption;

–Explained the various classifications for liquor licenses in the village;

–The village board Finance Committee does not control the budget, only the entire board does, the committee takes recommendations from department heads, the village administrator and other committees;

–Explained the TIF district out toward Love’s and how it will run until 2033.

Now New Baden it is up to you, so go out and Vote.  Election is on April 6th 2021.

Caleb Alexander

Caleb Alexander

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