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 from Ward 3 Ald. Doris Turner.
Turner: I have represented Ward 3 on the Springfield City Council for 8 years; however, I have been a strong advocate for economic development in the area for a significantly longer period. I successfully advocated for the expansion of the Far East TIF district which allowed more businesses to be included in the TIF thereby generating more increment, and successfully advocated for and testified before the Illinois legislature to expand the TIF district providing more opportunity for businesses to locate on the East Side of Springfield as well as opportunity for existing businesses to expand and/or renovate. Additionally I have worked to ensure appropriate zoning so there are opportunities for growth. This successful activity has been especially concentrated along the Dirksen Parkway corridor. I am also working with developers to address the blight along the Stevenson Street corridor which I am confident will lead to additional development. I supported funding the Lincolnland Economic Development Council which will provide a "one stop shop" to economic development, and I believe spur economic development throughout the City; however, I have met with the LEDC leadership to make them aware of my concerns regarding an East Side focus. While we always look to bring new businesses to the East Side I am also working to ensure that those businesses we currently have stay. In that regard I am working with businesses on workforce development and workforce retention.
Turner: Serving as Ward 3 Alderman has been a great honor and a responsibility that I do not take lightly. I am a dedicated public servant who has represented both Ward 3 and the City of Springfield with passion and integrity. During my first campaign, I cited three areas that I wanted to address – boarded up and abandoned buildings; the budgeting process; and the fair and equitable distribution of city services, and I have introduced and passed ordinances that have changed the culture of Springfield in each of these areas. The landscape of Ward 3 looks very differently because there is a specific time limit on property remaining uninhabitable; and all ordinances that require an expenditure of funds must indicate the budgetary impact prior to passage and a quarterly financial report is now required. In addition, I introduced and passed the ordinance that established the Office of the Inspector General – a cultural change that added a level of accountability to the process; and the ordinance that mandated that all funding realized from video gaming be dedicated exclusively to infrastructure needs. The City now has an Affirmative Action Plan, lake clubs can no longer discriminate against women regarding membership, and the City’s boards and commissions are more representative of the City’s population. Homeowners who live within the Far East TIF can now access TIF funds for exterior home improvements and first responders can access TIF funds for homeownership within the district, and Ward 3 is on the cusp of the most transformative action imaginable – the redevelopment of the problem property currently known as Poplar Place. This is a small snapshot of my aldermanic footprint; however, I can say that without a doubt during my eight years on the Council I have made an impact that will remain long after my tenure. During the next four years I will continue my advocacy on behalf of and for the residents of Ward 3 and the entire City of Springfield.
Turner: Everyone wants the same thing - to be treated in a fair and equitable manner. Ensuring that this occurs in both perception and fact is important.
Turner: As a lifelong Springfieldian I remember when downtown was the epicenter of action, and I would love to see that type of activity return. I was in total support of the City buying the Y-Block and think it is a great opportunity for economic development and the revitalization of the downtown area. Unfortunately, due to several different issues and individuals progress on developing the Block has stalled. This is a unique opportunity for Springfield, and we must capitalize on it. If we are to truly look at revitalizing our downtown, this is a seminal moment in time. I believe the most advantageous path is one that includes a mix use development that will attract people to downtown, provide revenue to the City, and spur additional development in the downtown area. In addition to the Y-Block there are many vacant buildings in the area that could possibly benefit from this development – a domino effect if you will. There is also the added attraction of its proximity to the Governor’s mansion. The mansion is a tourist attraction that recently completed a multimillion-dollar facelift and has the potential to be a great compliment to the development. There is an urgency in the decision, and it should be made with all expediency. I fully support Sen. Andy Manar’s legislation that could possibly bring a Southern Illinois University law school annex to the Y-Block. I think a SIU and/or UIS affiliation would hit all the big three in terms of my vision for the Block and increase the prestige of the City’s blossoming educational foundation.
Turner: I am in total support of UIS and any expansion plans they may already have or wish to explore. The 11th street extension will provide a better linkage to the city, and a downtown presence will also compliment the university. I would also love to see more coordination between the university and local entities and District 186.
Turner: I believe that Springfield is a great place to live, be educated, and raise a family; however, I don't think we do a great job of marketing our city. I am confident that the Economic Development Council will fill that void. We also have to tout our success stories and how there are many genres of professional opportunities in Springfield. I also believe that as the university becomes more involved with life outside the university walls some of this will happen organically.
Turner: I believe that people do care about city council, but as with most things they become more involved when there is an issue that directly affects them and their life/lifestyle. I work tirelessly to ensure that my constituents are aware of what's happening not only at City Council but with any and all activities and/or programs under the auspices of city government. For example, I have a very active Facebook page where I provide a plethora of information; I utilize NextDoor another social media platform to provide information; I attend neighborhood association and other community meetings on a regular basis; and host several citywide annual events at my home. I have lived at the same address since the early 80s so constituents frequently just "stop by" with their questions and/or concerns. I take my responsibility as an alderman very seriously and leave no stone unturned to engage with not only my constituents, but individuals throughout the city.
Turner: No, I do not. I believe that there should be outlets for adult entertainment. Additionally, I introduced an ordinance that mandated that all revenue from video gaming be placed in a fund dedicated specifically to infrastructure.
Turner: I applaud the Mayor for instituting his Youth Council comprised of high school students. I think it plays an important role in getting young people an opportunity to become involved. I also think that it is important that all boards and commissions reflect the community which would include young adults. I lobbied the Mayor to include a youth on the new Tourism Commission because we need that voice when planning tourism for the community. I also reach out to organizations that serve youth for partnership opportunities. This is something that we must continue to work on, because it is important.