City council candidates debate future of Macomb

Primary elections for Macomb City Council happen Tuesday, and the competition is tough. After Macomb’s 2010 census, the city went from seven wards to only five.

The McDonough County League of Women Voters hosted a forum Wednesday featuring seven of the candidates.

Four years have passed, and it is time for Macomb citizens to choose their new city council candidates. Only four seats are open, with ward one’s Ryan Hansen running unopposed. Voters had the opportunity to hear each candidates opinions at Wednesday’s forum.

Sara Boeckelman, president of the league of women voters, says, “We always make an opportunity for the public to see all candidates, and make sure they’re able to make an informed choice.”

An informed choice about many issues like the city’s funds. Similar to several other communities, Macomb is struggling with its tight budget. In fact the budget is so tight that the council worries about having to cut services and its employees. Fifth ward candidate Tim Lobdell sees that there needs to be a change.

“If we’re not going to raise revenue we can’t live on reserves, and we’ve been doing that for four years now,” says Lobdell.

But there isn’t an easy solution. Many candidates agree that Macomb residents are already paying enough in taxes, and want to offer other answers.

“I believe that as we’ve seen other communities do that are not home rule communities, that non home rule communities could implement a liquor tax,” says David Dunn 5th ward alderman.

Once the city finds a solution, they can move on to projects like downtown revitalization.

Though candidates disagree on many issues, they do agree that Macomb’s downtown needs work. Many envision less parking space, bigger sidewalks, and more landscaping.

“Trees, bushes, more grass I think would do a lot to make the square more appealing,” says Steve Wailand of Ward 2.

But Dennis Moon, alderman at large, reminds the community that the city needs to look at downtown’s infrastructure before it begins working on the square’s image.

“You don’t want to go and do all the surface work, and then have a water main break or a sewer break and then have to tear everything up that we had already fixed,” says Moon.

“A city can live or die by its downtown especially a small city like Aledo or Macomb,” says Wailand.

VIDEO: City Council Candidates Debate Future of Macomb