What you need to know about the April 2019 election
Name: Chris Rothweiler
Occupation: Supervisory revenue officer, U.S. Treasury
Position seeking: Belleville Ward 6 alderman
Campaign website: www.facebook.com Group: Chris Rothweiler for Alderman Ward 6
Why are you running and why should people vote for you? I am running for Ward 6 alderman because I believe that our city needs a change. When I grew up, Belleville was the place people moved to. Houses that came up for sale sold in a matter of days. It’s not that way anymore. Businesses have been leaving or closing but taxes and fees on our residents and businesses continue to be raised. I was never afraid for my safety anywhere in Belleville and that too has changed for many residents. Fewer police patrols coupled with crumbling sidewalks and streets are a great concern for all residents. We need new leadership to bring back the Belleville I remember, a growing, vibrant community.
What is the most important issue facing your town? How would you approach it? There are two areas needing immediate attention: Public safety and economic growth. Where people don’t feel safe, they don’t live, shop, work or locate their businesses. Our police department should be staffed with the authorized number of officers. It hasn’t been. Our business climate demands an innovative and full-time economic development department. Yet this administration has chosen to make economic development a low priority by cutting the director’s position to part time and adding additional duties to the job. This is shortsighted thinking and we are seeing the results of this decision as businesses by-pass Belleville to locate in other communities. Where businesses are overtaxed and assessed onerous fees, they also leave or do not invest.
Under what circumstances, if any, would you raise taxes or fees in the municipality? Please explain. Nobody likes taxes. They should only be increased when other options such as cutting expenditures have been exhausted. The current administration looks first toward increasing fees as seen in our monthly trash and sewer bills. An exception would be to protect the safety and property of Belleville residents and ensure their public safety. The safety of our citizens comes first and in a critical situation, it would have to be considered.
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? A fully-staffed police department, proactively addressing crime, coupled with a community involved in Neighborhood Watch programs, are two critical components of ensuring the safety of our residents and visitors. Unfortunately, our police department is understaffed and has been for some time. As a result, we the taxpayers are paying more for overtime and over-worked officers. I believe we need to invest in the safety and security of our neighborhoods by fully staffing our police department.
In recent years, the city has granted various tax incentives to businesses. Explain whether you would support or oppose tax incentives for businesses. We are competing for businesses with other communities that are offering incentives. We have to recognize that reality but in doing so, we should make clear that no businesses receive any incentives until their sales or developments materialize. The more they sell or develop, the more the incentive may become. This gives businesses the incentive to do well and protects taxpayers from losing.