Candidates’ top issues
** Amber Aivalotis Weaver said her top issues are replacing aging infrastructure, getting truck traffic to use proper routes through the city, and creating a more vibrant, walkable, bicycle-friendly downtown with attractive businesses.
Weaver said the infrastructure issue is a matter of planning and follow-through. She said good communication with truck dispatch centers is a must, but she added that solving the truck and downtown issues could go hand-in-hand — a road diet aimed at attracting a different business mix (sit-down restaurants, entertainment and activities) could also make downtown an undesirable place for trucks to enter.
** Cindy Doogan said a top priority for her is taking “whatever measures necessary to stop the building of these massive warehouses and increase the housing in the city.”
She said she would be a vote to help the Vandalia Police enforce laws “to severely decrease or eliminate the semis which continue to go directly through town regardless of our law enforcement’s efforts to stop them.”
Doogan also said she wants residents who feel unheard to be completely open and honest with her in order to convey their needs to the Council.
Credit: J SPIVEY PHOTOGRAPHY
Credit: J SPIVEY PHOTOGRAPHY
** Incumbent Constance Woods, like most candidates, said addressing increased truck traffic to nearby warehouses is a top priority. She said council has taken steps (the ring road, signage, and drafting legislation). But she said the city has limited ability to stop facilities from coming to surrounding communities.
Woods said with all development, challenges must be weighed against potential benefits, given that the community is aging, so tax revenues from residents are decreasing.
“We need to embrace developments that encourage both residential and commercial growth,” she said. “This may include developing new housing communities that bring in potential working families to generate additional income tax revenue.”
** Incumbent Corey Follick listed his top priority as continued upgrades to aging infrastructure that had been neglected (water/sewer mains, roads, parks and facilities). He also wants to focus on public safety, specifically needs for full-time fire/EMS staff, given challenges on part-time workforce. Follick expressed strong confidence in the city manager and his team.
Follick said the city has to be business-friendly and “agile” on development issues given changes in regional trends. “If we don’t prioritize growing that earnings tax revenue through job creation, then future City Councils will have to pursue alternative revenue growth options (i.e., a tax increase),” he said.
** Jack Herbst listed his top three priorities as revitalizing downtown with “responsible growth,” reducing commercial truck traffic, and attracting the right kind of business.
Herbst said the downtown effort is a matter of following the Comprehensive Plan and making the city more walkable and attractive. Part of that would be working with city management on the business mix.
Regarding commercial truck traffic, he said Vandalia can take steps with other elected officials at the state level to protect the city from outside development.
Candidate facts, quotes
** Weaver, who is an operations manager at Davidson Garage, listed a wide variety of local organizations she’s been involved with, including the Board of Zoning Appeals, the Chamber of Commerce, a school PTA and the steering committees for multiple city-led plans.
“I will put a focus on the future of Vandalia and what is best for the community as a whole,” Weaver said. " … I am opposed to the continual growth of a warehouse-focused development plan.”
** Doogan, who is a retired accountant, said she has been a member of the St. Christopher Church Parish Council, the Butler Athletic Boosters board, the Vandalia Arts Council and other groups. She wants to be a voice for “unheard” residents.
“Our current Council seems to be insistent on rezoning our public land and having warehouses built on it,” Doogan said. “This has caused a housing shortage in Vandalia. The revenue is important, I understand, but so are the residents.”
** Woods says she is a partner or shareholder in multiple Woods-titled companies, including a CPA firm serving both individuals and businesses. She cited roles as treasurer of Vandalia Development Corp. and Rotary.
“As the sole council member with financial and accounting expertise, I am an imperative member of our team,” Woods said.
** Follick is chief of the Englewood Police Department, where he has worked for over 20 years. He previously served on the city planning commission and said he is a Vandalia-Butler Optimist Club member.
“I have many experiences including split-second life and death decisions, to more involved and complex “big picture” decisions, which I believe provides a unique set of qualifications that no other candidate possesses,” Follick said.
** Herbst said he is a State Farm agent, and did not list any involvement in community organizations.
“I was born and raised in Vandalia and I feel like this is my opportunity to give back to my community,” Herbst said. “I want to make sure that the next generation is able to have the same experiences I have had here.”