Name: Emeka L. Jackson-Hicks
Town: East St. Louis, Illinois
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Position Seeking: Mayor
Campaign website: www.reelectjacksonhicks.com
Why are you running and why should people vote for you? I am running because I have worked hard as the current mayor to stabilize our city and build relationships on a federal, state, local, public, and private level that are crucial for the future development of East St. Louis. Because of the relationships this administration has garnered, we were awarded 5 Opportunity Zones, a Choice Neighborhood Grant and partnered with corporate citizens like Ameren, who invested more than $10 million on the renovation of their building in East St. Louis and has continued to partner with this administration on many clean-up projects. I want to continue the progress and keep trusted leadership in city hall because the type of leadership will definitely predict the future of East St. Louis.
What is the most important issue facing your town? How would you approach it? The city is faced with many challenges at this time. However, I believe that the most important issue facing our city right now is the future financial stability. I inherited a budget deficit and immediately put a plan in place to put the city on the road toward financial stability. My administration has almost completed 6 audits which will help us establish creditworthiness. In the past one and a half years, we saved the city $1.5 million by renegotiating contracts with vendors, eliminating several contracts and addressing outstanding lawsuits. We still have much to do and I want to continue the progress we started on our road to financial stabilization.
Under what circumstances, if any, would you raise taxes or fees in the municipality? Please explain. It is not my intent to raise any taxes. In fact, the citizens are already struggling to pay high property taxes and other fees. The only time I would ever consider raising taxes is to protect the health and safety of our citizens.
Crime has been an issue in parts of the metro-east. What is the best way to stop the problem in and around your community? We are working with law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, DEA, Illinois State Police, ATF, and US Marshalls to fight crime. Every two weeks, all of our law enforcement partners meet at the East St. Louis police department to review and address violent crimes. This initiative resulted in a 42% reduction in homicides in 2018 and overall crime reduction of 20%. We also developed a citizen’s initiative called the Collaborative Conversation on Crime. With this program we hope to empower our citizens to do their part by keeping a watchful eye and reporting violations. Lastly, we increased our number of code enforcers and started a regulatory affairs court to combat illegal dumping and other nuisance violations.