DeKalb Mayoral candidate Jerry Smith submitted this questionnaire, answering the Daily Chronicle's questions in the 2017 DeKalb Mayoral race.
Name: Jerry Smith
Office sought: Mayor
1) Why are you the best candidate?
With over 40 years of business and social service experience in DeKalb, my leadership skills are proven. I have a no-nonsense management style, with the ability to bring people together to solve problems across many issues.
2) What can the city government do to reduce crime?
Working together with law enforcement agencies, neighborhood groups, our Faith Community and NIU, we can tackle the root causes and stem the tide of lawlessness and violence. We must let those who want to cause trouble that such behavior is not welcome here.
3) Both of the city’s tax-increment financing districts and the millions of dollars they generate each year will end during the next four years. How should the city prepare for this?
Simply put, we need to increase revenue, along with exploring ways that some TIF-supported projects will need to become more self-sustaining.
4. How should city and Northern Illinois University officials work together to improve the community?
We should build on the relationship between NIU and the city’s police departments. Such partnerships may include employment and internship opportunities, sharing operational and recreational facilities, and growing on the momentum outlined by the Proudly DeKalb projects.
5) A recent study called for the city to take over operation of the Egyptian Theatre, renovate the venue and contribute to its operating budget. Is this a good idea? Why or why not?
If “taking over” means ownership of the Egyptian, absolutely not. However, the city should continue to assist in whatever renovations may be necessary to retain this community treasure.
6) Under what conditions would you support development of a STEAM learning center in downtown DeKalb? Do you think the city should contribute $4 million in TIF funding toward the project?
First and foremost, a corporate partnership is critical to the STEAM success. When such long-term commitment is secured, the utilization of future TIF funding will make sense.
7) What is one thing the city spends money on now that should be reduced or eliminated?
Hiring outside consultants. It seems to me that we have far too much talent at NIU and in our industrial community. Let’s involve them first, before spending more of our dollars out-of-town.
8) The city government sometimes is criticized as not being “business friendly.” Is this fair? What changes can be made, if any?
In some instances, this criticism may be “fair,” but overall the city must instill in all departments the importance of working congenially with our citizens. Let’s use some common sense!