Candidate profile: Dallas Cook

Name: Dallas B. Cook

Age: 31

Immediate family members: Wife, Erica, and our children, Jackson, Jayda, Boston and Cash

Town: Belleville

Office seeking: Mayor

Occupation: City clerk

Previous and current elected offices and terms served: Belleville city clerk from 2013 to the present

Why are you running? I am running for mayor because I was born and raised in the city of Belleville and I am currently raising my children here. I believe this city is at a clear crossroads in its history. We either fight together to protect our city from ruin, or we continue to watch the city we love go downhill. I will passionately fight to strengthen our community in all ways and send the bad people packing. I want my kids to be proud to grow up in Belleville. I refuse to sit on the sidelines and watch the current mayor act as a dictator and run this city into the ground for his own personal gain.

What is the most important issue facing the city of Belleville? How would you approach it? The most important issue facing the city of Belleville is public safety. Crime is what drives good residents out of town. We must make crime prevention our number one priority. In order to do this we do not need to spend more money. Instead, we need more cars on the street in known high crime areas. The Belleville Police Department is currently very top heavy. My goal is to take as many officers as possible out from behind the desks and on to the street.

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 am 100 percent opposed to any new taxes. If these tax increases pass, Belleville will have the highest sales tax in the nation. This would cause great harm to our local businesses and economy. Folks in Belleville are already paying sky high property taxes while at the same time watching their home depreciate in value. The local governments should already have plenty of funds. Enough is enough.

In recent years, the city has granted various tax incentives to businesses. Explain whether you would support or oppose tax incentives for businesses. I am opposed to giving away your tax dollars to subsidize multimillion dollar corporations. The current administration has used incentives in ways that do more harm than good. The result of moving businesses down the street has simply moved customers down the street. This has left shopping centers on the interior parts of town vacant and crime ridden. For example Walmart on Carlyle Avenue was given TIF money and incentives to move a mile down the road on Carlyle Avenue. This has left us with the eyesore of a vacant Walmart and a crumbling shopping center. If we focus on repairing our streets and preventing crime, businesses will not require a ransom payment to do business here.

What actions would you take to fight crime in Belleville? Explain whether you think the city can afford to hire more police officers. The first step I will take is to change the current leadership of the police department. It is time for a new passionate chief to lead this department. I want a chief that is visible and vocal in our community. I want the chief to go into our local schools and give our kids the message that committing a crime will ruin your life. The way the city currently operates, there is no money for additional officers. However, with proper prioritization we certainly will add more patrols under my administration. Keeping your family, homes and businesses safe will be my number one priority.

Why should people vote for you? If you are looking for someone to fight for your best interests at every opportunity then I am your guy. I will make all decisions based upon what is best for the people of this community. As your clerk, I have saved you millions of dollars by simply having the guts to stand up for what is right. I have ended pensions for part-time attorneys, ended the waste of Belleville Township government, made the City Council paperless, and scanned all city documents to make them available at the click of a button. As mayor, I will be able to accomplish so much more by simply making decisions that benefit taxpayers.