Had the opportunity to spend about fifteen minutes talking with Chis Wissman about his candidacy and what he would liked to see happen in Carbondale. I'm working from notes rather than a recording so the responses are me paraphrasing what I have written as his responses:
Why are you running for re-election?
Wissmann sees taking more responsibility for his surroundings as part of the progression of his life. He loves the community and couldn’t have done what he’s done here, starting the Nightlife and getting involved the way he has, anywhere else in the country. He knows lots of people who have the same feelings, graduated from SIUC and wanted to stay here but didn’t have the opportunities he did. By serving on the city council, he wants to preserve opportunities for the people that are here.
What issues are people you talk to indicating they find important?
Crime is a real issue with people. Though the police department says it’s decreasing, the perception among constituents Carbondale residents is that it’s increasing. People would like to see more neighborhood organizations ala the Arbor District. Housing and economic development are also important issues. The Rental Property commission and inspection program is helping to address the housing problems. Economic development is a little trickier. It’s hard to bring in factories and other traditional components of a strong economic base. The city tries to attract major retailers as well but fewer regional and national retailers are available. We can’t look outside the community to grow the economic base, Carbondale needs to grow from within, fostering more home and office based businesses, rather than manufacturing. The Direct TV tech support company coming to the city is not a perfect example but a good one. The people the company hires will get trained, then work from home, rather than going to a central facility to work. Developing an artist relocation colony, such as the one in Paducah, is anther form of development the city could pursue.
The tax donation to the Saluki Way project was the most controversial item the council voted on during the past term. Are you still hearing from people about it?
Yes, people know Wissmann voted against and are still taking about it. It still comes up in conversation with about half the people who bring it up in favor of it and half opposed.
Where would you like to see Carbondale in two years?
He expects to see an improvement in rental housing in the community due to the increased inspections and hopes to see a significant portion of the updated Comprehensive Plan implemented as the items in it reflect many of the community’s concerns.