ELECTION 2019 QUESTIONNAIRES | Champaign City Council: Kenton Elmore

ELECTION 2019 QUESTIONNAIRES | Champaign City Council: Kenton Elmore

1. What prompted you to run for a seat on the city council?

"Years of preparation. As Abraham Lincoln said, 'I will prepare and some day my chance will come.'

"I was raised by the community I now serve and wish to serve in a higher capacity. I was taught by Unit 4 and the University of Illinois. I have been a close observer and participant of city council and municipal government.

"Much of my preparation to succeed in this role comes from the community serving me. And now, I am ready to be the servant."

2. What would make you a better candidate than your opponents?

"Once again, years of preparation. I have passed the learning curve of becoming an effective city council member through community engagement, service and observation. I understand the dynamics of this role and will utilize that knowledge to fill the demands of servant leadership on the dais from day one.

"My acclimation to council has been done independently, and therefore provides a unique opportunity to serve with the set of tools given to me by this community. While others may rely more heavily on guidance from their colleagues on city council, I have prepared myself to serve you outside of that influence."

3. What do you consider the greatest challenge facing the city in the next four years?

"There are many, and the key is making sure we consider all of them as much as possible in every decision we make.

"When we talk about our dockless bike program, we must recognize how it can address poverty and violence. When we consider financial incentives for new development, we must make sure not to overlook other programs that would also benefit from those taxpayer dollars. And when we approach a project in one neighborhood, we must be aware of the impact it will have on the others throughout Champaign.

"Ultimately, our goal is to provide a safer, cleaner, more prosperous community that reaches every citizen, neighborhood, business, student and visitor. Our welfare as individuals must be dependent on the welfare of us all. We need to take ownership of our city's challenges together, and approach them accordingly.

"Sometimes, the key to success is one that opens someone else's door rather than your own."

4. How would you evaluate the CU Fresh Start anti-gun-violence initiative after two years?

"The roots of the program are solid, and the personnel that have committed their time and expertise to CU Fresh Start are the exact people we need for this initiative to succeed.

"I believe the program would effectively utilize additional funding and am eager to consider that at a study session during the upcoming budget season."

5. How worrisome an issue is gun violence in Champaign-Urbana, and what more, if anything, can be done to curtail it?

"Gun violence is a top priority in our community. It is a symptom of some of our other issues such as inequality in housing, employment and overall opportunity. Every step we take in serving this community must have a direct or indirect effect on decreasing gun violence.

"One of the more direct things we can continue to work on is police-community relations. I currently serve as one of the first six citizen representatives to be appointed to the Champaign Police Department's Use of Force Review Board. This initiative has potential to greatly improve the community's involvement and understanding of how CPD effectively serves our community."

6. Assuming recreational cannabis is legalized, what additional resources, if any, would you be in favor of devoting to police and DUI enforcement/education?

"I would be most comfortable with a reactive approach to this at first. There is little data out there to prove that legalization of recreational marijuana would lead to a significant increase in DUIs.

"Of course, if incidents increase, we must be prepared to address that with the necessary resources quickly. I feel confident that CPD and the city would be able to work together effectively on this in the interest of ongoing safety in the community."

7. What are your thoughts on the growing number of high-rises near campus, and their impact on the look and feel of Campustown?

"I think it's wonderful to see all the development happening in Campustown and elsewhere in our community. It has modernized the look and feel of the area, which is now a micro-urban environment attractive to college-aged folks who consider attending the University of Illinois and even staying here after graduation."Certainly, this development has come with some sacrifice. We must be careful not to tear down too much of our history in order to build our future. We must also be sure not to develop too fast, and devote excessive resources towards it.

"I am happy with what we've done to get where we are, but I envision that development will slow down a bit and continue to happen more organically, without significant taxpayer dollars devoted to developer incentives. The goal when stimulating development, as we have over the last decade or two, is to prepare the market for decades more of sustainable growth.

"We are now at that tipping point, which is crucial and will benefit from a fresh, prepared perspective on city council."

8. Do you worry about the loss of historic structures as this development expands?

"I went to elementary school at Dr. Howard and high school at Champaign Central. I grew up on University Avenue right between them, two blocks away from each. My parents still live there. I have countless fond memories from classroom to playground, including much more recent ones visiting those places with my young nephews.

"It wasn't easy taking a final walk through the halls of Dr. Howard last year, and it isn't easy to see the empty lots around Central where buildings that were once magnificent had stood. But what makes me feel positive about these changes above all else is the potential they have created.

"We have the opportunity to provide a future for students and this community that will one day be marked as historic in its own right."

9. Given the recent Clark Park issue, how would you protect central Champaign neighborhoods that want to retain their character?

"I am in favor of the city working with neighborhoods to establish measures that will shape, retain or grow their part of our community the way they best see fit. There are certainly tools available like preservation districts that we ought to consider when appropriate.

"And like everything else, we must consider the impact of such measures not only in the case of where they are pointed but to the other neighborhoods in Champaign as well."

10. Similarly, are you worried that developments on the fringe of town — i.e., Carle at the Fields — will simply draw retail, etc., away from downtown and central Champaign?

"Expanding our city's footprint has generated opportunity for businesses to expand as well. That will continue to happen, and that's a positive for our community.

"I'm not worried that fringe development will draw opportunity away from other established business districts. Downtown and central Champaign will continue to thrive as well."

11. Has the city done enough to award contracts to minority- and female-owned businesses? And, if not, what specifically would you propose?

"We need to do better in this regard, but fortunately I believe that many of the tools necessary are already in place. The Champaign Diversity Advancement Program (CDAP) was recently launched and I am eager to see how it helps the City approach this exact challenge."

12. How significant an investment should Champaign make to try to lure back the IHSA boys' basketball tournament once its contract with Peoria expires in 2020?

"I believe the most significant investment in this conversation is one the University has already made. State Farm Center was midway through renovation when the bidding for this tournament last took place. At that point, the city of Champaign pledged $30,000 per year to try and bring back the tournament we had hosted for the vast majority of the 20th century.

"This time around, I think the venue and other attractions we've added to our community will make the difference rather than a stack of cash. I would support a financial commitment from the city, but not as large as we decided on in 2015. And perhaps some of the difference can be made up by the city of Urbana — last time around, their financial pledge was 83 percent lower than Champaign's."

13. What's the thing or two you're proudest of about living in Champaign?

"I suppose what makes me the proudest is the fact that I wouldn't want to live anywhere else. Most folks grow up somewhere and strive to move away to a better life. Oftentimes, if they stay in one place forever, it's considered a form of failure.

"On the contrary, I feel privileged to grow here and become more involved in my home community. It's what I have learned from this community that led me to this point, where I'm prepared to serve Champaign as a member of city council."

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