Fairview Heights Mayor-elect Mark Kupsky does not officially take office for another two weeks, but he’s already putting his plans in motion.
“I have gotten myself very active in the operations of City Hall so that we start off quickly and we don’t lose a beat,” Kupsky said.
The 53-year-old has been meeting with staff and citizens as he looks into new committees and appointments he will be making to aldermanic committees. He succeeds five-term Mayor Gail Mitchell, who did not run for re-election. Kupsky has a list of priorities that he pledged to address if elected, including economic and residential development.
“Some of the things that are really important to me during my term are focusing on development on the west end, addressing our storm-water and flooding issues on the east end,” he said. “But most of all, I want to open up communications across the city with all residents. I also want to look at our parks and recreation programs and look how we can enhance those. We are looking at some things like developing some dog parks for our residents.”
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Kupsky is not new to City Hall. He has served as the city’s clerk for the past four years and has also served as an alderman for seven years and the city’s treasurer for 11 years. He said he wants to work toward unifying the City Council.
“In the past it has been somewhat divided, so my goal is to bring the council together,” he said. “I will work closely with the four new members as well as with the six existing members ... to develop as a team in a cohesive approach to address the issues of the city and working together to better Fairview Heights.”
Kupsky also plans to establish a citizen advisory board as well as youth and business advisory boards to give all residents and business owners a regular forum to discuss their concerns.
“I believe in communication, two-way communication. Getting input from residents,” he said. “It’s not about what the City Council just wants to do. It’s very important to me to understand what the public wants to make sure we’re working on the right things. I welcome their feedback, the same with our staff. I don’t have all of the answers, but I certainly will listen to what people have to say. I think that’s the way we better the city.”
He also plans to work with neighboring communities by taking a regional approach in serving the community.
“I think that is important to drive regional activities. That is a key focus of mine,” he said. “If we just stay inside Fairview Heights, we’re missing out on the whole metro-east. That ties back to helping with the retention of Scott Air Force Base and just driving regional initiatives to bring people to the metro-east area.”
In a city without a city property tax, the mayor-elect also realizes the city’s reliance on retail sales tax. Kupsky said retaining and enhancing the city’s business sector is another area where he plans to place his focus.
“My role as mayor, I think, is to stay very closely engaged with our business community,” he said. “They have different types of needs and we really need to work along with the staff to make sure that we’re understanding the needs of our business community and what we can do to foster those relationships and secure those businesses in Fairview Heights for a long time.”