Name: Van “Scott” Ferguson
Immediate family members: Carman Morice - Sister
Office seeking: Alderman for Ward 3
Occupation: Director of outreach at Saint Matthew UMC Belleville
Previous and current elected offices and terms served: None
Why are you running? A lifelong resident of Belleville, I wanted to get involved with the forward movement of our city. I want to work towards more commerce and improving the infrastructure of Belleville. We have a great city, with a great future!
What is the most important issue facing the city of Belleville? How would you approach it? One of the most important issues facing Belleville is how the city competes economically in the marketplace. We need to look at all the ways to expand our services, while repairing our aging infrastructure in a tough marketplace. Some possible solutions are to bring new businesses into Belleville focusing on the whole city from west to east. Focusing on the entire city west to east will only strengthen Belleville’s ability to compete in a competitive marketplace. Additionally, we need to address our aging infrastructure to provide an added bonus and attraction for businesses to operate in our city. If elected, I will research these issues and options available to the city to see how we can move forward.
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. That’s a tough question. How will tax restraints affect retail and allow retail to compete in the marketplace with this increase in sales tax? I believe in investing in our city and its future and am keeping an open mind that taxes aren’t always a bad word. Have we spent the time to research other resources and revenue streams for funding instead of just raising taxes? If I am elected I will explore these avenues to see what options are available for Belleville and what would benefit Belleville best. For the 1 percent sales tax for safety and education, I would prevail upon the county and educational leaders to specify how this will impact the next few years in alleviating the need for future tax increases. This could have a large impact on businesses within the community. I do appreciate this issue being brought before the voters so they have a say in this matter.
In recent years, the city has granted various tax incentives to businesses. Explain whether you would support or oppose tax incentives for businesses. I would approach this on a case-by-case basis. I am not a fan of taxes, but after the recession of 2008 every municipality is in dire need of economic development. Belleville needs to remain competitive in the marketplace. All of our surrounding communities use TIF similarly to Belleville, for economic development and to take care of blighted areas. If you have a blighted area, a TIF is actually an investment in that community, I find that a better way of looking at it.
What actions would you take to fight crime in Belleville? Explain whether you think the city can afford to hire more police officers. With 84 police officers, a new police department well equipped and well run, I feel Belleville’s law enforcement is the best! We need to make sure we are allocating our resources to the fullest. I do believe we have an excellent police force!
Why should people vote for you? A lifelong resident of Belleville, this city is home to me. I am fully invested here; living, working, and social life all wrapped up here in Belleville. I believe we have a great future with our city and I want to add to that with my strong work ethic, compassion and drive to solve problems. I love Ward 3 and feel honored to run for election to be given an opportunity to represent the constituents. If elected, I will throw myself in completely for the betterment of our great city!