What you need to know about the April 2019 election
Name: Joe Hazel
Occupation: COUNTRY Financial
Position seeking: Ward 1 Alderman
Campaign Facebook: JoeHAZELforAlderman
Why are you running and why should people vote for you? Like many others in our community, I have an interest in how our city operates and the direction it’s taken. Prior to first being elected alderman in Ward 1 four years ago, our neighborhood faced unacceptable issues. We re-established the Oakland Neighborhood Watch Association, where I was elected president. We initiated programs designed to bring neighbors together, improve safety and awareness to reduce crime and due to our many successes, I was asked to run for alderman. I did and won against an opponent that had been unable to address our concerns. As promised, I am a proactive and effective member of the council, building bridges and fostering positive relationships to better serve the residents of Ward 1. Fellow alderman Ken Kinsella and I work well together. We get things done with little delay. It’s important to work together, which benefits our ward in ways that divided can never accomplish. I hope for the opportunity to continue my service to Belleville’s ward 1 residents and businesses.
What is the most important issue facing your town? How would you approach it? Economic development, growing our community is one very important concern for Belleville. We must continue to look for ways to strengthen our local businesses, improve communication and develop areas in and around Belleville to encourage investment into the future strength of our community. The health of our city depends on safe neighborhoods, job and career opportunities, entertainment choices and attractive recreational areas. These attributes among others help make our community a great place to live. I will continue to help make Belleville a safer and more rewarding place to live, work and raise our kids.
Under what circumstances, if any, would you raise taxes or fees in the municipality? Please explain. I am a resident of Belleville. I live here, I work here and I certainly pay taxes here. No tax increase or fee increase is ever taken lightly and can only be considered necessary when all other efforts or options have been exhausted. I will always oppose any tax increase or fee increase that I do not believe is absolutely necessary. My record shows I have opposed past fee increases, and the last tax increase passed by our council was mandated by the state to fund pension obligations for our police and firefighters.
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? Safety in our community is definitely an important issue to each of us. We must always look for ways to make our city and neighborhoods safer. Community policing is an effective policy that increases communication between citizens and our police. Awareness and communication helps us remain safe. But also we must continue to staff and equip our police department appropriately. I serve on the Police and Fire Committee, where we continue to discuss and implement ways to improve our police department’s capabilities. Our police department has a newly expanded, modern facility and we have recently added six new police officers, with others beginning the process. I also support creating an auxiliary police unit that will help add manpower to our department, freeing up our officers and providing more safety during events.
In recent years, the city has granted various tax incentives to businesses. Explain whether you would support or oppose tax incentives for businesses. Instances exist where I would not support tax incentives to businesses. I certainly would not be in favor of any incentive where the citizens, the taxpayers of Belleville do not benefit from the investment. I would only support very limited incentives as an investment to encourage development or improvements that foster growth of Belleville’s existing businesses or the creation of future economic opportunities. Growth is fundamental to the health of our community. I will continue to support infrastructure improvements that attract new investments and growth opportunities and only support those incentives that will benefit Belleville taxpayers, judged on a case by case basis. Projects deserving of our investment should provide a significant increase in sales tax revenue or jobs for our community. I believe in a build it first philosophy, no development/no incentive. No incentive given until the project actually becomes a reality.