DeKalb Alderman Ward 2 candidate William Lamb submitted this questionnaire, answering the Daily Chronicle's questions in the 2017 DeKalb Alderman Ward 2 race.
Name: William (Bill) Lamb
Office sought: DeKalb Alderman Ward 2
1) Why are you the best candidate?
I’ve been observing the manner in which DeKalb has operating for quite some time now and, having fallen in love with this community early on, felt that the City of DeKalb has somewhat of an identity crisis. What do we want DeKalb to be? I have an aggressive ‘think outside of the box’ style backed by the passion that is required to lead this community into sustainable growth while at the same time making the decisions to reduce the unnecessary and, at times frivolous spending that has helped get us into the ridiculously high tax base that this community has now.
I am committed to being available to my constituency for any questions or suggestions they may have by ensuring that all manners of contact are responded to. This is something that Ward 2 has lacked in the past but will have available through regularly scheduled Ward meetings as well as responding to the need for emergency meetings on issues of extreme importance that may come up.
2) What can the city government do to reduce crime?
We need to look at the root cause of the crime, and in certain areas, the perception of high crime in DeKalb. Having had conversations on the topics of crime with NIU Police Chief Tom Phillips and our own Police Chief Gene Lowery I have gained a sense of commitment toward the reduction of crime and a desire to partner with each others’ Departments to work towards this mutual goal. Of the myriad causes of crime in DeKalb, I would say the first items that come to mind are Mental health issues, Job Creation in our low income areas and the continuance and broadening of urban style policing in those areas of higher crime.
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?
I feel that this is our opportunity to aggressively market the City of DeKalb as a leader in the area of Fiber Optics, Water Resources, available tax deferment areas in our Enterprise Zone as well as the resources of manpower and intellect. This is really going to be the time for us to get down to aggressively seeking the support of projects and infrastructure that will have the greatest impact on our tax income.
4) What is one issue that is important for your ward?
With the breadth and scope of the Second Ward we have several important Items of Importance; Jobs, convenient food markets, crime perception and poor in the southwest section of the ward. As we move through the Tilton Park subdivision there are the eroding roads. Property values that have stayed low since the recession of 2008-10 in all the areas of the Ward and the entire City, just to name a few, so there are way too many issues that exist currently that would allow me to hone in on a single category in my Ward.
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?
I feel that the Egyptian Theatre is an important and beautiful building that adds to the unique architecture of the area. But I also feel we have to start stabilizing our expenditures on projects that, in my opinion would benefit from marketing to and partnering with corporations or a group of companies that could provide the capital needed to sustain and grow the Egyptian Theatre. So I do not feel it is a good idea for DeKalb support this project as recommended in the study cited.
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?
We have to understand that once started this project will have maintenance costs into the future far exceeding a million dollars per year, the University is broke and will not contribute any money. I will ask the reader to reference my opinion as stated above, let’s get a commitment of capital from other sources that may also benefit before committing the citizens’ dollars.
7) What is one thing the city spends money on now that should be reduced or eliminated?
We need to take a serious look at the size of our city staff, we are in a position that requires us to reduce and streamline the number of our city staff.
8) The City government sometimes is criticized as not being “business friendly.” Is this fair? What changes can be made, if any?
We need to take a serious look at city ordinances that can appear restrictive to businesses that want to operate in our town. One place to start is looking at small businesses and companies that have left DeKalb and list the reasons why they have left, looking specifically at any reasons surrounding ordinances that don’t exist or are more restrictive than surrounding communities.