Well, I think I have made up my mind for who I will be voting for for council. I had already stated that I’ll be voting for Chris Riley and David Horn and I’ll explain why. The third vote was a little difficult but I have decided to go with Chuck Kuhle and I will explain why I chose him too.
I have found Chris Riley, who has been a park board commissioner for several years, to be very accessible and willing to listen to anyone. I can’t tell you how rare that is. He is undoubtedly a very busy professional in his day job but still makes time for any resident to speak with him. That’s the number one thing I ask of any candidate. We don’t have to agree all the time but there needs to be mutual respect and a conversation. So, I feel very confident in my decision to vote for Riley.
I voted for David Horn the last time he ran and I believe he only lost by a small margin. He’s very enthusiastic about the community and I think we share many of the same interests. He’s a biology professor and I’ll be graduating with a B.S. in natural resources in a few months. We share an interest in the environment, which I think is something that Decatur needs to focus on more. I also think he’ll bring a new perspective and new ideas without a personal vendetta against any one issue or personality.
My choice for Chuck Kuhle was difficult because I also think highly of Marty Watkins. He has also impressed me, so I wouldn’t be upset if either won. I wish I could vote for both but I chose Kuhle over Watkins because I think we probably have a similar vision for creating a more healthy place to live, not that Watkins doesn’t believe in that too. See why it was a difficult decision?
In one of my classes I just finished I learned about values mapping and essentially in values mapping you ask a person to point out 5 places on a map that have meaning to them. Those meanings can be economic, spiritual, recreational, educational, etc. For my map I had to select 5 places from Macon County that matter the most to me. Two things I chose were Garman Park and the Stevens Creek Bikeway. Both are within walking distance of my house and both are major reasons why I choose to continue living in Decatur. I’m lucky that I live near them but other parts of the community don’t have the same things within walking distance and they’re far less attractive to residents because of it. Kuhle has called for more investments in bike paths and similar projects. The park district has done a lot in this area but the city needs to step it up too. I can’t speak for any of the candidates I’m supporting but I think they all would be receptive to a more walkable and healthy community.
I also like Kuhle’s idea of encouraging efforts without using tax dollars to help pay for college tuition for recent high school graduates in Decatur. A big reason why families leave Decatur is because of our public schools. We need to keep involved families here to help schools and teachers. We also need to expand the tax base. It is absolutely essential and such a program would help encourage people to stay and produce a trained workforce that would attract new employers. It’s a win-win across the board.
Of course, a biggie with me is neighborhood revitalization. We have to improve our neighborhoods and especially our main corridors. US 51 heading south into downtown Decatur should be priority number 1 in my opinion. It looks awful. Heading north from downtown on 51 doesn’t look much better. Of course, it would help if the state would repave the hideous road.
I also absolutely agree in a targeted approach to improving specific areas of the city rather than doing a little here, there, and wherever. We need specific plans for redevelopment for specific areas. I hope the candidates I’m voting for agree.
I’m still going to keep my decision for mayor to myself because I don’t want any ideas I might have to be shot down by a mayor that thinks I don’t like him or her. It has nothing to do with who I like or don’t like. I think the council candidates I have chosen are already supportive, or at least receptive of many things that I care about and I think all three (and my fourth choice) have a very good chance of winning. However, I’m not that sure about the two mayoral candidates and that’s why I’m keeping that vote to myself.