Springfield Ward 2 Candidate Answers

Mar 27, 2019

A group of Southeast High School students participated in Illnois Public Media’s Civics Youth Engagement Summit in March. They came up with ten questions to ask.

Illinois Public Media emailed questionnaires to the candidates for city council. Below are the submitted responses. Answers from Ward 2 Ald. Herman Senor and candidates Gail Simpson and William "Shawn" Gregory.

Candidate Tom Shafer did not respond. 

This post may be updated.

What are you going to do to bring more businesses to the East Side?

Gregory: I look to create a business district with development of the south grand corridor to start with a campaign called 'Bring Back South Town'. I look to utilize the existing TIF areas as well as the Opportunities zones to give further incentive to businesses

Senor: I always advocate for the East and North sides of the city but this also has to be a effort where residents advocate for themselves. We are working on some affordable housing and trying to create jobs for those who want to work.

Simpson: I plan to work with the Mayor, the Director of Planning and Economic Development and Eric Berglund with the Economic Development Corporation to have the discussion regarding the types of businesses that can be brought to East Springfield that will also appeal to all of Springfield.

What are you going to do for the East and North sides of cities?

Gregory: "The Village Initiative " for the east side will include partnership with 15 local business, social and civil service and see funding to be distributed to "Ambassadors' to blighted areas I look to address economically and residential.

Senor: I always advocate for the East and North sides of the city but this also has to be a effort where residents advocate for themselves. We are working on some affordable housing and trying to create jobs for those who want to work.

Simpson: I am going to work with the other alderman and the mayor and try to impress upon them the importance of having a more equitable distribution of resources to address the longstanding neglect that has been the history of both East and North Springfield. This includes infrastructure and housing. We need to bring a quality of life to residents that encourages more stable neighborhoods.

How would you try and unite the residents of Springfield?

Gregory: By making residents aware of whats going on door by door, social media and press releases.

Senor: Increase neighborhood associations where none exist.

Simpson: There is no easy answer to this question. Residents and especially alderman need to become knowledgeable about that dark history of Springfield racism and begin to have discussions. Perhaps meetings that include historical presentations and discussion across the city lead by trained individuals would be a start.

What are your plans for the downtown area?

Gregory: I am a fan of [state Sen. Andy] Manar's college campus.

Senor: Highlight businesses that have invested in our city. Try to get a development on the North Mansion Block that will contain Residential, commercial and business.

Simpson: We need to find a way to bring people back into downtown. This can start with the development of the Y Block; I am in favor of a mixed used development that would include housing and businesses along with a park. The idea of a university presence is also worth pursuing.

Will you create more space for UIS to expand?

Gregory: Absolutely would be a supporter.

Senor: There is space available downtown now. However if the push is for new then include UIS with the development of the north mansion block.

Simpson: There have been discussions about a public/private partnership that could include the university and I am in favor of that.

How can we get more people to move here and into our schools?

Gregory: We have to be more willing to see individuals who may not meet all the lofty education requirements but have good hearts and connections to the communities to continue to build trusting relationship with our young people.

Senor: Make Springfield Age Friendly. Ask the Legislature to modify our school boundaries to reflect our corporate limits. Highlight our great school district.

Simpson: Springfield needs a WOW factor that would encourage people to come and then we also need more STEM related businesses; increased opportunities for the trades and industries that make Springfield a vital state hub. Similar to what has happened in Indianapolis. Also a more accessible and heavily utilized airport.

How are you going to make more people care about city council?

Gregory: I look to create "Ward Tour" where me and every city council member will go and tour each Ward and make connections. People need to see all of us in every community more and not just on TV or when its election time.

Senor: Motivation comes from within. Any person has to come to their own conclusion to “get involved.”

Simpson: You cannot make people care about city council, however we can by our actions prove to people that the city council is not merely a self interested governing body, but a gathering of people who have the best interest of their constituents at heart and a love for the city of Springfield.

Do you think there is too much video gambling in Springfield? If so, what would you do to protect people from it?

Gregory: I like to see us put it all into one Casino on the East side off town By Crown Plaza. Obviously Gambling is a draw here in Springfield as we lead the state in this Video gambling thing. I like to see us put it all into one Casino on the East side off town By Crown Plaza. Obviously Gambling is a draw here in Springfield as we lead the state in this Video gambling thing.

Senor: The Market will dictate when it has become saturated and then when the revenues decrease that will dictate that there is too much video gambling. This is a personal choice since video gambling is legal. The moral obligation and the legal right dictate what action can be taken.

Simpson: Yes. Make sure that information and help is readily available regarding gambling addiction to assist them making their own decisions.

How would you include young people in government?

Gregory: I would like to see us create a Youth in Government Week where each of us takes 1 kid from each Ward and let them come along with us throughout the day and show them the ropes.

Senor: Increase this tool you are using and create a young people’s council on municipal happenings.

Simpson: Encouraging council member participation in youth lead community events and allowing youth to ask questions about issues important to them.