As mentioned yesterday, I sat down with Carbondale Mayoral candidate Nathan Colombo last week with some questions about his candidacy. I did let him look them over before publishing to make sure I got his responses correct. The only change was a correction in the first paragraph to his statement referencing the age of about 50% of Carbondale's population. Hoping to catch up with Mayor Mike Henry and other members of the city council that are up for election as well:
Why did you decide to run? I feel that, given that Carbondale has a population that is nearly 50% young people, aged 20 to 34, city government and the council could use a more youthful perspective. The student population is very important to Carbondale’s economic and social well being but students, feeling that they do not have a voice, demonstrate a noticeable apathy toward the system. I hope to break through and deal with that apathy. From my discussions with students, it appears they do not feel as connected to the city as they once did.
How will you work to change this feeling of apathy? Just showing up will help a lot. I hope to model activity on that of Murphysboro mayor Will Stevens and make it a point to show up to as many events in the community as possible. I want to increase the amount of communication between the city and its residents. I do not feel, for example, that the need for and purpose of the recently enacted food and beverage tax was well communicated prior to its passage. I like the idea of the monthly Meet the Mayor sessions but would like them focused around a particular theme each month, as I feel that would draw more people to the events. I am very active on social media and would use all of my social media accounts to communicate both with students and the community at large.
What would you focus on as Mayor? I feel that the current city government has does a good job focusing on the city’s infrastructure, such as the downtown streetscape. I would, instead, focus on the city’s culture. Carbondale had, and has a vibrant music subculture and I would like to emphasize that. Using the Washington Street concert venue as an example, should the city continue to use a mobile facility for events or build a permanent structure? People have approached me about a possible TIFF district on the east side of town. I don’t know about that but if enough residents are interested, it is something at which we could look. Our sales tax revenue dropped by $800,000 this past year. I want to keep sales taxes at the current level while looking into ways to bring more residents and especially shoppers into town. 5 businesses are responsible for nearly 12% of the city’s sales tax revenue.
Is there anything you wish I had asked? I would like to work to bring more industry into Carbondale, both to grow the economic base and to give students a reason to stay, rather than leaving after they graduate. I would like to work to grow our bio-products industry. Under the new farm bill, the production of industrial hemp was legalized and I think that is something the community should look into. We have a world class media program at SIUC and I would like to see Carbondale take advantage of it by developing a media industry utilizing that program.