SYCAMORE – The three candidates campaigning to replace Ken Mundy as mayor of Sycamore were tasked with naming one challenging issue the city faces and how they would handle it during a candidate forum Sunday at the Sycamore Public Library.
The event was hosted by Sycamore Area Indivisible, an interest group aiming to increase participation in local politics.
Each candidate in attendance was given three minutes to make an opening statement and an additional three minutes to answer questions from the audience, which was comprised of more than 50 residents.
Naming a challenging issues Sycamore faces was one of the first questions the mayoral candidates were asked.
Fourth Ward Alderman Rick “Spider” Kramer said one of the hardest things he has faced is the lengthy amount of time to open a business in Sycamore, noting the process he underwent in opening his downtown business, Spider Tattooz.
“I’ve heard people say it’s tough to open a business here and that we’re not business friendly, but we can do something as a city to streamline the process,” Kramer said. “It took me over nine months to open my business, and realistically it shouldn’t take that long.”
Kramer added that as a volunteer firefighter, he has learned the skills of good teamwork and integrity, qualities he aims to take with him when working with city staff.
“I’ve dedicated my life to helping others in need, some on their worst days ever,” Kramer said. “I will work as a team with the City Council to keep budgets on track, not raise taxes and get infrastructure upgrades.”
First Ward Alderman Curt Lang said one challenge he has noticed is how public complaints are being handled by the City Council.
“People are at the City Council meetings because they are unhappy, so we need to figure out how to balance city codes to please the majority of the people,” Lang said. “That may not be possible, but to me, that’s a real issue.”
Lang added that there also is a lack of communication between the city and local developers and business owners.
“The Chamber of Commerce fills that role somewhat, but I just know communication between city departments and developers is an issue we need to deal with,” Lang said.
Sycamore City Clerk Candy Smith said one challenge she notices is a lack of communication between residents.
“People won’t talk to people, and I think we have to take the time to get to know each other and we can work through our differences instead of going to the police department for them to be answered,” Smith said.
Smith added that she feels the community is safe.
“The police chief just gave a report that crimes in 2016 are down and arrests are up, so I think we’re getting criminals for a lot of stuff that’s going on,” Smith said. “I’ve spend 18 years working with the city, and I want to continue that service by listening to, caring for and leading you as the next mayor of this city.”
Questionnaires from all three Sycamore mayoral candidates can be found on the Daily Chronicle’s website.
Many other city office candidates also were in attendance. Fourth Ward candidates James Bisceglie and Virginia Sherrod; city clerk candidates Cortney Cox, Christiene Drake, Lisa Hepker, Shaney Herrmann and Mary Kalk; and township highway commissioner candidates Williams Powers and Ronald Edwards all gave presentations.
However, not all candidates for some races came to the event.
Township trustee candidates John Ward, Ellen Rogers, Chris Brundies and Chase Renwick attended the forum, but Russell Josh, Rebecca Edwards and George Diedrich did not. Eric Jones, one of three candidates for a Sycamore School District 427 Board position as part of Sycamore Township, participated, but Jason Hulst and Jeff Jacobson did not. Cortland Township candidate A.J. Hofer also was in attendance, but Mayfield Township candidate Jim Dombek was not.