Name: Ken Kinsella
Immediate family members: Wife, Donna
Office seeking: Alderman Ward 1
Occupation: Retired teacher
Previous and current elected offices and terms served: Board member Belleville Grade School District118; Alderman city of Belleville 2008 - 2017
Why are you running? I am running to keep Belleville on a positive track. There are a lot of good things happening in Belleville and I want those to continue. We do not want to return to the spirit of negativism that existed a few years ago. Belleville is on the move and we have to maintain that momentum.
What is the most important issue facing the city of Belleville? How would you approach it? I believe my constituents would say crime is the most important issue facing the city. It seems that crime is on the rise because we hear so much of it on the news, but it is hard to determine how many of the crimes are actually in the city of Belleville. When the evening news is mostly a listing of crimes in the region, it unsettles everyone. We must find new sources of revenue so we can hire more police officers. I realize that well-guided economic development is the key to solving crime because it will bring in that additional revenue that we can use to hire more officers and support staff. I have great faith in our Belleville Police Department. Our officers and detectives have a high success rate in solving criminal cases. We are in good hands.
In 2013, the Belleville City Council approved a 0.25-percent sales tax increase that is set to expire this year. Explain whether you support or oppose the continuation of this tax and whether you support either or both of the 1 percent sales tax referendums on the April ballot in St. Clair County. I voted for the quarter percent tax in 2013 and I would vote to continue it because it gives a lot of “bang for our buck.” First, it amounts to only a quarter for every hundred dollars spent and does not apply to food, medicine or automobile purchases. Second, if you look at Belleville on a map, you can see that it is long and strung out in shape. This means that a lot of the people who shop here are from outside the city. Much of the revenue will come from nonresidents and our citizens will get a great value for the amount they pay. We will get more “bang for our buck.” Both of the proposed one-cent sales tax referendums are not part of the city’s agenda. It is not my place to comment on them as an alderman.
In recent years, the city has granted various tax incentives to businesses. Explain whether you would support or oppose tax incentives for businesses. As chairman of the Economic Development and Annexation Committee, I am very aware of the incentives we have granted businesses. The purpose of economic development is to bring in revenue to the city coffers. Most agreements are on a self-funding basis. This means that the developer does not get any money until the city receives it through property or sales tax. Then the city gives some of the money back to the developer and we keep the rest. When you hear that a developer is going to get a million dollars back, that means that the City has made a million dollars or more. Without incentives from the city, the developer can take his project down the road to a city that offers incentives. Incentives bring tax dollars to the city and that keeps our real estate taxes down.
What actions would you take to fight crime in Belleville? Explain whether you think the city can afford to hire more police officers. Some of the things we have done are already making a difference. Crime-Free Housing is already showing benefits. The new police station has helped our department to operate more efficiently. Although the number of sworn police officers has remained about the same, the ongoing training has not slackened. We have a highly-skilled police force. Of course I would like to hire more officers. The problem is what to cut out of the budget to get it done.
Why should people vote for you? People should vote for me because I am honest, educated and hard-working. If you ask anyone who knows me well, he/she will tell you I am straightforward and I do not make promises I cannot keep. Another reason you should vote for me is that I have the education and experience to do this job well. I know my eight years as alderman have made me a better representative of my ward than I was when I first started. My record has already proven that I am hard-working. I have chaired more committees and have been on more commissions and task forces that any other alderman. Ken Kinsella is your best choice for alderman for Ward 1.