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Preserve and Strengthen Our Neighborhoods

As your Councilman, James Kemper will LISTEN to you, his neighbors, and document your ideas and priorities on public safety, parks, sidewalks, community gardens, bike lanes, community art, or other concerns. He will work alongside neighborhood leaders to make our neighborhoods more appealing and recognize them as a critical, value-added component of our City. Kemper will support holding property owners and landlords accountable for the maintenance of their property and their impact on neighboring properties.

 

We must celebrate the diversity of each neighborhood. James will promote and find resources for each of the many individual neighborhood organizations which take pride in their communities. James will proudly be a voice of reason who will represent homeowners as an advocate with the City of Peoria and as a diligent liaison to the community organizations which positively impact the 2nd District.

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Diversify and Grow Our Economy

Unfortunately, Peoria (and Illinois) has been declining in population over the past decades. While the Warehouse District is experiencing a facelift and growth, OSF is planning expansion that will bring new technologies and bring people from around the world. Although Kim Blickenstaff has invested generously in the revival of many historic structures, too much of Peoria is still experiencing decline. James will work to find solutions that will favor growth rather than despair.

 

James has the background and experience to actively pursue development on Main Street, University Sheridan Triangle, and Knoxville. These corridors of commerce were bustling at one time. He proposes to restore the luster!

 

These corridors are major thoroughfares between downtown, north Peoria, and Dunlap. James proposes to make them more appealing by addressing critical transportation infrastructure needs, while also focusing on aesthetics, like adding trees and burying unsightly power lines. He also hopes to incentive developers to build denser storefronts, following a form-based code that will discourage large parking lots and create beautiful user-friendly environments which will appeal to the neighborhoods and commuters.

 

Main Street can be revitalized further by providing direction and support in the rehabilitation of the structures that were once stunning. Spaces between these buildings should be promoted to follow the form-based code with parking in the rear, allowing contiguous sidewalk storefronts. Utilizing our zoning codes to create new opportunities will also help our City grow. More businesses mean more jobs.

 

New developments should look to the future while respecting the past. High-speed internet, charging stations, solar, and sustainable water management such as permeable pavers and bioswales are necessary to ensure our City’s children are properly prepared for future success.

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Protect Overburdened Taxpayers

Tax Burden is too high- Our overall tax burden is simply out of control and unsustainable in Illinois. The solution is not raising existing taxes or implementing new taxes and fees. James prefers to find means by which taxes can be lowered, making living in our City more affordable and desirable. James believes our goal should be increasing the city population; therefore creating more tax revenue with lower tax burdens.

 

Shared Services & Government Consolidation – Some studies have reviewed the consolidation of certain agencies between the City of Peoria, Village of Peoria Heights, and City of West Peoria. We suggest that the study be expanded to other contiguous villages, cities, and townships and to include consideration of consolidation of police, fire, jail services, local government, and schools. The current pandemic has tested the limits of government budgets and we must recognize the efficiencies which may be required under the new normal. Our elected officials should lead on this issue, however, too many are more concerned with preserving self-interest over protecting the taxpayers.

 

Responsible Revenue Expansion- Look for and listen to ideas like the water company purchase. Discover new ideas, be creative and review them responsibly. Not all ideas are good ones, but sometimes a portion of the idea or a derivation of the idea is what will work.

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Ensuring Public Safety

James is proud of his commitment our City’s police officers and firefighters. If we are to successfully bring new businesses and homeowners to Peoria, we must maintain and improve our public safety. With time, new proven means and methods will provide a structure, but the structure means nothing without the qualified individuals. Funding for the police and fire departments is a necessity for the way of life in today’s society.

 

Knee-jerk “solutions” driven by emotion and not by critical thinking will not serve our community well. The current trend of pointing fingers at police officers around the country for all of societies’ woes is unjustified. We all want to live in a safe community and those who live in our heritage neighborhoods are on the frontlines every day. Residents do not want to worry about the specter of violent crime nor continual hassles of property crimes. Our law enforcement does what they can with the tools they have to serve and protect and they must be supported in this endeavor.

 

Providing education to our police force with proven means and methods of policing is a given. Organizing local response in a way that distributes some responsibilities to social workers with support from law enforcement is common-sense. Our neighborhoods should not be the petri dish for untested social policies.

 

Our police officers alone cannot combat the deterioration of families and neighborhoods and the crime that occurs as a result. The City Council must find a way to promote policies which create more economic opportunity for all of our citizens. When given real career options, which give hope, and provide the sense that we care about all of Peoria and refuse to leave any behind, we can to cause the change we all want to see.

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Pension Costs Impact City Services

Our City is not in a position to make changes to the pension for the police officers and fire fighters. The responsibility is mandated by the State of Illinois. Many believe that the pension requirements are too burdensome to our taxpayers. James will voice the concerns of the 2nd District to State lawmakers.

 

Our pension costs are wholly unsustainable, forever occupying a growing portion of all city revenues collected. Our obligations to yesterday have come at the expense of the services we are still expected to provide today and tomorrow. James believes in retirement security for those who work hard for the city, but until these pension costs are addressed and made sustainable, the city will never be able to balance its budget. If we want to maintain roads, make citizens safe, create an environment where businesses thrive, and provide the full array of services that the residents of a city this size have every right to expect, then we must permanently address the out-of-control pension costs.