SYCAMORE – All three candidates vying to be Sycamore’s next mayor were stumped to name the most pressing issue facing the city but provided distinct answers on how they would ensure the long-term viability of the city’s downtown.
Candidates Rick Kramer, Dr. Curt Lang and Candy Smith were asked to explain why they should be elected and fielded questions from residents Thursday evening in the Regale Center at a forum hosted by the Sycamore Chamber of Commerce.
Kramer, a 4th Ward alderman, said he would ensure when buildings are remodeled that they still match the overall look and feel of downtown Sycamore.
“We can’t have something like a lot of neon lighting and stuff like that,” Kramer said. “We have to preserve that downtown district and keep it charming like it is, because I think that’s what attracts people here.”
Smith, the Sycamore city clerk, said the city should do more to support residents shopping at local businesses.
“I think we have to encourage people to shop locally and to eat and drink locally, so we keep our downtown businesses viable,” she said. “They help keep the property taxes down as well.”
Lang, a 1st Ward alderman, said the city should continue to improve its “curb appeal” by offering assistance through facade grants. He added that businesses should coordinate so their stores’ appearances do not clash.
“[We should] have establishments communicate with one another to work together in the way their property is displayed,” Lang said.
The candidates also offered different perspectives when asked what they would want Sycamore to look like in 10 years.
Smith said she would like to see more diversity in Sycamore, while Kramer said he would like to see the vacant properties and subdivisions filled with houses.
Lang said he thinks the city is “on track to become a greater, bigger community,” and that as mayor he would want to be involved in managing its growth.
People spending too much money at video gaming establishments was another issue brought before the candidates.
Lang said gaming establishments are limited based on city code, but they should still be allowed.
“I worry about discretionary income being used for nonessential services; I personally am a conservative guy,” Lang said. “I will follow the code, but I don’t really have to endorse it.”
Kramer said he is concerned about people developing gambling addictions who may need to find help; however, video gaming has helped some businesses to stay afloat.
“It has bailed out some of the clubs, like our smaller clubs in town,” he said. “It has advantages and disadvantages.”
Smith said she would be in favor of limiting the number of establishments that open specifically for video gaming, but the city should not be telling adults how they can or cannot spend their money.
“I wouldn’t mind seeing those types of places capped, but we’re adults and we have to make decisions,” Smith said.
Questionnaires from all three Sycamore mayoral candidates can be found at www.daily-chronicle.com.