Springfield Ward 6 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 from Ward 6 Ald. Kristin DiCenso. Candidate Elizabeth Jones did not respond. 

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

DiCenso: As Aldermen and women, we focus on our own Wards and City projects (like the Y-block). It's a bit of a no-no to get involved in other Wards, unless you're doing a joint project, or it's considered a City initiative.

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

DiCenso: As Aldermen and women, we focus on our own Wards and City projects (like the Y-block). It's a bit of a no-no to get involved in other Wards, unless you're doing a joint project, or it's considered a City initiative.

How would you try and unite the residents of Springfield?

DiCenso: I would unite the citizens of Springfield the same way I unite them in my life; get involved! Go outside your comfort zone, join a group or attend a meeting that you know nothing about. ASK QUSTIONS! I've learned so much about our homeless problems by actually talking to homeless people.

It's also important to realize there is an opportunity gap in Springfield. This is a great way for businesses to step in and fill that void. Hanson Engineering, a fantastic Ward 6 business started the "Grow Your Own" program a few years ago to increase minority participation in STEM education. Much needed and a great program.

What are your plans for the downtown area?

DiCenso: Having lived in Chicago, Los Angeles and San Diego, I want that! Other capital cities are thriving. Austin, Columbus, Indianapolis and Nashville have new residents flocking to them. So what are they doing differently? They have vibrant, thriving downtowns.

I definitely think a University presence is need downtown. Bringing youth and energy to any area of the city will definitely change the landscape and vibe. I think moving the Public Affairs Center to the Y-block or the Armory could have a significant impact on the face of Springfield.

The proposed new hotel would also be an excellent asset to the downtown area. We don't have anything even remotely close to it and it looks amazing. It's the outside the box planning Springfield needs.

Will you create more space for UIS to expand?

DiCenso: As a graduate of UIS, I would definitely like to see it expand, both physically and with the curriculum. The University has come a long way, but I think more Master's and Doctorate programs would benefit the community.

As far as physical expansion, I have covered that above in the previous question.

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

DiCenso: Until the city and state get on better financial footing, we need to do the best job we can of marketing our universities and FUNDING them appropriately. As a product of District 186 schools and graduate of UIS, I think it's important to let people outside of Springfield know what a great community and education center Springfield is.

It's also important to note we have a unique opportunity with the Illinois Innovation Network right at our fingertips. That, combined with the recently formed Land of Lincoln Economic Development Commission could affect the future of this city in a very positive way.

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

DiCenso: I'm EXTREMELY active on several social media platforms, partly for campaign purposes, but also to raise awareness about what's going on in the City and the role City Council plays in decision-making for the City. You make people care by showing them how our decision affect their lives.

When people complain that we don't have year-round leaf and branch pick up, I ask if they want to pay more taxes. The answer is always "NO!". If they don't want to pay more, we have to work within our budget. The misconception vs. reality about what we pay for taxes in always interesting to me. Education is a huge component to what we do.

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

DiCenso: I don't gamble. I learned at a very young age I'm not very good at it and I can't stand losing money. If it's what other people want to do, that's up to them. That being said, Springfield has the largest concentration of video gaming machines in the state (579 at last count). To me, the market dictates what is too much. I do have several active neighborhood associations that don't want video gaming in their neighborhoods. I respect that and always honor that when a business owner contacts me.

How would you include young people in government?

DiCenso: I include young people every chance I get! Whether it's talking to a class, or having teens/young adults volunteer, I always try to get the future involved. I didn't REALLY get involved in politics until my 30s, so it's never too late. Politicians need to be approachable and accessible for people to want to get involved or feel included and I feel I do both. If my 10 year old son can knock on doors with me, anyone can do it!