Candidate profile: Dan McDowell

Name: Dan McDowell

Age: 66

Immediate family members: Spouse-Rhonda McDowell; Daughter-Dani Bray; Daughter-Allyson McDowell; Son-Seth McDowell

Town: Granite City

Office seeking: Ward 3 alderman

Occupation: Respiratory Therapist

Previous and current elected offices and terms served: Appointed Ward 3 Alderman-2001; Elected Ward 3 Alderman-2003; Re-elected ever since

Why are you running? I am running for re-election to help support Mayor Ed Hagnauer’s vision for a rebirth of the city. It has been a tough nine years since the economic collapse in 2008. We have been holding on ever since, making do with reduced federal and state monies as well as a reduction in our property tax base. Now we are faced with uncertainty over the future of our steel mill. We know we cannot depend solely on manufacturing jobs, we have to diversify. One way is to use the arts as an economic engine and we have seen growth in that area thanks to the Alfresco Art Center, the addition of sculptures throughout the downtown area and the movie theater to name just a few.

What is the most important issue facing Granite City? How would you approach it? There are many important issues facing our city such as aging infrastructure and housing stock, large number of rental properties, crumbling sidewalks and curbs, none of which can be fixed easily but we have to keep doing what the Mayor and City Council have started, block by block and neighborhood by neighborhood, fixing what we can as quickly as we can, requiring landlords and homeowners to take care of their property and citing those who do not. Ultimately what we all want is a great community that provides opportunities for people to live, work and play. You have to have safe, affordable housing, quality schools and activities for the youth as well as our seniors. You have to have cultural events, shopping, involved churches and a community with a passion for making our town what we all want it to be. At the recent Grow Granite event I was pleased to see how many people came forward to be part of this rebirth. We have a lot of work ahead of us however and as the moderator noted, the only way for a community to succeed is to have an involved group of citizens leading the way, assisted by those of us in elected positions.

If you were writing a job description for the position you’re seeking, what would it say? Position: Alderman. Required: Dedication and a willingness to work with others to achieve common goals, responsive to needs in your own ward while being able to do what is best for the city as a whole rather than selfishly doing only what is best for your particular area. Tenacity: You will soon realize the wheels of government do in fact turn slowly and often many of the things you would like to do are outside of your ability to have any control over the timetable or the priorities of others.

How would keep costs down or reduce costs in your municipality? As a member of the Finance Committee I have supported efforts by Mayor Hagnauer to modernize the city’s computer network, reducing positions through attrition & adding a hotel tax to help reduce the imbalance in our police and fire pension funds.

We are looking into the possibility of setting up a Mow-to-Own program which would allow a city resident to mow a vacant lot adjacent to their property for a period of time, typically two years, after which time it would become their property. Currently the city is mowing numerous vacant lots and this would help to reduce the cost to the city plus the lots would then go back on the tax rolls. This has been successful in other cities and at my last Planning and Zoning Committee meeting the Council gave preliminary approval for the program.

Why should people vote for you? I am a dedicated, experienced alderman, active in the community, my church and the Boy Scouts. As the Chairman of the Planning and Zoning Committee, I work closely with the Planning Commission, the Board of Appeals, the Graphics Review Board and the HARC Committee to ensure that we are doing the right thing for our citizens now while maintaining a proactive stance for the future of our city. The Planning and Zoning Committee has been instrumental in setting up a Planned Unit Development in the Downtown area extending down into Lincoln Place. This protects investment and promotes development. I have been part of a Downtown Committee that has seen the establishment of the best Movie Theater around, a revitalized downtown with Kool Beanz, Aiello’s Pizza, Lascelles and now the Novel Idea Bookstore and More.

Last but certainly not least, I am blessed to have a supportive wife who understands why I spend so much time on the phone with the people in my ward, driving the alleys and just meeting with people who need someone to hear about their concerns. I would be honored to continue to be your alderman.