Name: Kent Randle
Immediate family members: One child
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Office seeking: Alderman - Ward 3
Occupation: Business consultant
Previous and current elected offices and terms served: Alderman - Ward 3, one term
Why are you running? My motivation is really about making a difference in the lives of my neighbors, my ward and my community. It’s about delivering the people’s message, to make sure their voices get heard. My mission is to ensure we get the highest value for our tax dollars.
What is the most important issue facing the city of Belleville? How would you approach it? Just about every person I come in contact with says public safety and the crime is the top issue. We’ve spent and continue to spend considerable tax dollars to build a new state of the art, police headquarters, vehicles, computers, etc. We have not hired additional officers. Why? Because TIF can’t be used for salaries, we must rely on the general fund to finance the hiring, continued employment, as well as benefits of not only police officers, but all other departments and employees. The recently completed contract negotiations with each union representing city employees, increases our salary costs by 2 percent, 2 percent, 2 percent and 3 percent over the next four consecutive years. By law we are required to fund pensions and in keeping our obligation to our employees, we must levy higher taxes to stay solvent. We have effectively, boxed ourselves into this corner of fiscal constraint, making it more difficult to deal with the city’s crime rate. That means we must look inside for how effectively our current policies operate. Sometimes, having someone from the outside evaluate your practices, audit how you operate, and provide an analysis of how you employ resources can provide ideas you haven’t examined. There are companies with extensive history of working with communities to conduct such workflow studies and I would support the police department if it were to request such in the 2017 fiscal budget. I refuse to believe we just need to accept things as they are. It offends me to think I just need to accept defeat and let the criminals have their way. That is not the norm our citizens want for their community.
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? The 0.25 percent sales tax existed prior to 2013 in response to overwhelming disapproval of the former Wheel Tax. It was sun-setting in 2013. When discussed in Finance Committee, we agreed to a continuation of two years, which was ultimately extended to four years at the urging of the mayor, when it came before the City Council. The mayor stressed the importance of those tax dollars as means to hire more police officers, yet rebuffed the idea of designating those funds for that very purpose. If the proposed 1 percent sales tax referendum for Public Safety passes in April, we need to take a very close look as to whether or not this 0.25% sales tax is still warranted. After all, we’re being promised a share of the new funds. I question whether both taxes should burden our community and the folks who shop here.
In recent years, the city has granted various tax incentives to businesses. Explain whether you would support or oppose tax incentives for businesses. As far as TIF is concerned, I would prefer we focus on rebuilding infrastructure. I’ve submitted 25 streets in Ward 3 for the new five- year plan, which should be adopted May 1, 2017. I’ve been submitting these same streets each year I’ve been in office. I’m hopeful many will be targeted for improvement in the near future. Ward 3 is due. I opposed the corporate welfare check of $200,000 to Kroger to build Ruler Foods. Companies generating over $100 BILLION a year in revenue, do not need taxpayer funding. Kroger’s revenue share comes at the expense of Shop-n-Save and other existing grocers. The pie is only so big. Through our business districts and enterprise zones, the forgiveness of sales tax on building materials bought in Illinois and the abatement of smaller percentages of incremental property tax increases for local businesses improving derelict properties is a relatively cheap and taxpayer friendly means of encouraging both development and redevelopment. It is tax neutral since there is no tax dollar if the project is not built anyway. I oppose transferring funds from one TIF to another under the ruse that it is a “loan” to be repaid. The word loan does not exist in the TIF Act. Let’s not pretend what we’re doing. My criteria are the project needs to be a direct benefit to a capital asset of the city. It needs to be taxpayer owned for such transfer to warrant my support.
What actions would you take to fight crime in Belleville? Explain whether you think the city can afford to hire more police officers. I’m in contact with our police department on a regular basis, both administrative, command and line officers. I’ve developed great rapport with folks within neighborhoods and the officers that serve our community. What makes us effective is working together. The police relish the cooperation of people who so dearly love where they live and their desire to keep their neighborhoods safe. Neighborhood Watch is very effective when its members work with each other and the police. Establishing networks to share video surveillance, utilizing Code Red to heighten awareness of criminal activity within an impacted area, shift patrols through districts, proper staffing. There is any number of ideas, but a workflow study may well show us what gaps exist in our approach. In our present financial state, we just don’t have the funds to hire more police without cannibalizing other critical services. We operate on a razor thin budget and projects we hoped would add to our bottom line, have yet to materialize
Why should people vote for you? Honesty, integrity and experience. Putting my constituents first has been my priority. It matches my approach to working with my clients. I’ve worked in financial services 36 years. I’ve hired and supervised diverse groups of employees, managed departments, chaired committees and built consensus across groups with varied interests. I bring objectivity to the table. I look for what’s the right thing to do as opposed to the politically connected way to operate. I hold several securities licenses and serve as a business consultant to nearly 600 financial advisers. I help them identify appropriate solutions to meet our client’s unique investment objectives, while managing the risks associated with today’s financial markets. As a public servant, my job has been to listen to the people who elected me, to be their voice on the City Council, to be their advocate at City Hall. I’ve stood with neighbors and our police and housing departments to shut down drug houses remove the dealers and users; and hold irresponsible landlords accountable. The job of an alderman is to protect the interests of their constituents. If done right, the job does requires an investment of time to familiarize yourself with the material to be discussed, to do further research, to get out in the community and investigate the site firsthand. I do my best to understand all sides of an issue before voting. I think it’s only fair to be informed before you commit taxpayer money or change the landscape of a neighborhood. I’d like to think my efforts have in some way redefined what the role should be. I’ve used my education, work experience and communication skills to demonstrate my core values. I’ve acted as an advocate for the people and families of Ward 3. I believe my professionalism has been an asset to the City Council.