Candidate profile: Michelle “Shelly” Schaefer

Name: Michelle “Shelly” Schaefer

Age: 47

Immediate family members: Married to Donald Schaefer for 27 years. Two daughters, Brianna Schaefer and Brooke Schaefer.

Town: Belleville

Office seeking: Alderman of Ward 5

Occupation: Elementary school teacher for 26 years in Belleville School District 118, with 23 of those years at Roosevelt School in Ward 5

Previous and current elected offices and terms served: I am currently in my second term as a member of the Belleville Township High School District 201 school board. I have held this position for 7 ½ years.

Why are you running? I am running for the position of alderman of Ward 5 because I was born and raised in a family that has always given back to our community in volunteer positions as well as employment. I want to be a part of the team that keeps our amazing community heading in the right direction. Belleville is a city on the move, and I am very committed in keeping that momentum going. After being in education for 26 years, I realize the importance of people working together. We currently have a very strong City Council, and I would like to be involved in the decision-making process. This is why I am dedicated and excited about serving the community where I grew up and helping the people who I care about.

What is the most important issue facing the city of Belleville? How would you approach it? I think one of the biggest issues facing the city of Belleville is the diminished state funding. This affects public safety and the infrastructure needs of our city such as street repairs and sidewalks. With this being said, I will also be fiscally responsible when tackling these issues. We are going to have to work as a team, be creative, and look for alternative ways to fund these topics. It will be a very delicate balancing act, but I know we can do it.

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 will support the continuation of the 0.25 percent sales tax to compensate for the diminished state funding. This tax does not affect our property taxes or the sales tax on cars, groceries or medications. Like I said previously, we are going to have to be creative when looking for ways to support public safety and infrastructure needs of our city. I am supporting both of the 1 percent county sales tax referendums on the April ballot. These referendums are supporting schools and safety which both are near and dear to my heart. I believe it is important everyone have a voice in this decision and am glad this is being placed on the ballot. I do not believe in the taxing and spending just for the sake of doing so. We need to continue to be fiscally responsible in our approach to spending. Once again, with diminished state funding, we have to look at alternative resources.

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 in support of tax incentives for businesses when used wisely and not abused. Without these incentives, a city cannot have new growth and development. This also levels playing field when competing with other surrounding communities. After the great recession of 2008, most cities are struggling to attract and maintain good solid businesses. If we are not proactive in our approach to big business, we could potentially lose opportunities to help our community thrive and continue to prosper.

What actions would you take to fight crime in Belleville? Explain whether you think the city can afford to hire more police officers. I believe our Belleville Police Department works hard each and every day. They work diligently to keep our city safe. Our city would be able to hire more police officers if the 1 percent county sales tax referendum for safety passes on the April ballot. Our city stands to get roughly $450,000 from this referendum to use toward fighting crime in Belleville. Sometimes it’s not how many police officers we have, it’s the leadership in place. I believe we have the strongest police department in Southern Illinois. We provide the resources on an annual basis that provides our police department the opportunity to get the job done.

Why should people vote for you? As alderman of Ward 5, I will be able to serve the amazing community where I grew up and the people I deeply care about. I will show my dedication to our community by working hard and being a good listener. I do not think of this as just a position, but I think of this as a very important job. I will only be satisfied if I can return 100 percent of my efforts to my ward. I will be proactive on problems, I will be out in my ward, and I guarantee you, I will get the job done and make you proud.