Unconvinced of the city’s urgency, write-in candidate Kristen-Diane Pollock is challenging Mayor Mike Inman in Tuesday’s election.
Not long after becoming a Macomb resident, Pollock approached city hall about the conditions of the sidewalks. The city’s lack of action in this instance cemented Pollock’s feeling that local leaders aren’t truly taking public concerns seriously. “I know what real leadership is and we don’t have a lot of it in Macomb,” Pollock said. “All I see out of our elected officials is that they only talk about the stuff that matters around election time.”
Previously, Pollock lived in Georgia and Washington, but she found comfort in Macomb, where she’s lived since 2015. The mayor-hopeful is hoping that a background in transportation, retail and health care will entice voters to look in her direction. She is also proud of her work ethic and supervisory experience.
“Civil service is in my blood,” Pollock said. “I’m willing to go as far as I can to save this town. It will be a challenge but I’m up for it.” One of the primary components of Pollock’s campaign platform is to fix the town’s infrastructure.Pollock makes it clear that she sees the city’s recent attempts to repair roads as temporary and cheap fixes. If elected, she plans to give the city engineer and public works department a 90-day period to assess each of the town’s roads. After the assessment, they would have to come up with a repair plan that fits within the budget.
“I’m talking about real repair, not band aids,” Pollock said. “It’s 2019 and our roads look like this? That’s ridiculous. I’d like to know where our tax dollars are going.”
Reviving Western Illinois University in the midst of a sharp enrollment decline and massive layoffs is also on Pollock’s agenda. From Pollock’s perspective, Western President Jack Thomas has led the University down a dismal path.
“Western lacks leadership. I don’t think Jack Thomas gives two damns about the city of Macomb or Western. He just likes the money,” Pollock said. “He is responsible for the decisions that put Western to hell and he needs to be fired.”
Earlier in March, Western announced the dismissal of more than 130 employees. Pollock said that it’s not just the layoffs that makes her question the University’s problems, but it’s also about their decisions to cut programs like women’s studies and the Board of Trustees’ violation of the Open Meetings Act in 2018. Western announced the members of the new board on Thursday. “The BOT really screwed up,” she said. “That’s criminally illegal what they did so I think that they should be brought up on criminal charges.”
Pollock recognizes Western’s impact on the Macomb community and doesn’t think local leaders, nor Representative Norine Hammond or State Senator Jil Tracy care enough about its future. As mayor, she would assign her staff to contact Governor J.B. Pritzker until he agrees to provide additional funding for the university.
“Macomb is Western and Western is Macomb,” she said. “You can’t have one without the other.”
Another priority on Pollock’s plan is to attract new businesses to Macomb. She recalls businesses like The Red Ox, K-Mart and Little Caesar’s that have all departed in recent years. She also finds the absence of a 24-hour restaurant like Steak ‘n Shake or Denny’s as well as a year-round Dairy Queen to be frustrating.
Many of Macomb’s restaurants adjust their schedule around Western’s schedule, which Pollock finds inconvenient. She wants to go to bat for the nurses, doctors, techs, as well as EMTs and those in law enforcement, who may work night shifts.
“We need places that stay open whether Western is in session or not,” she said. Pollock will encourage business owners to take advantage of the empty buildings that are available throughout town. She would also try to entice more Internet- based companies to offer employment in Macomb in order to encourage more Western graduates to stay in the area. Financially, Pollock speculates that the city gave Wal-Mart a tax break and that she would be in favor of making the store pay taxes.
She sees an opportunity to utilize the city’s bus services more effectively by offering more routes for seniors, as well as ensuring that there is at least one EMT on the police department. Additionally, she would fight for an independent truck stop since Macomb is connected to towns like Quincy and Peoria. The city could then use the funds from the gas tax that the truck stop would collect.
After finding a lack of clarity from city hall regarding how many signatures a candidate needs to run as an independent, Pollock said that she was discouraged by the city’s voting process. Feeling that the city did not want her to win, she became motivated to run as a writein candidate.
“How can you have an election with just one person? I may not have been born here and my name may not have the recognition, but that does not mean I’m not qualified,” she said. When Inman replaced Mellie Gilbert’s aldermanic seat with Annette Carper, Pollock wasn’t pleased.
“He had an opportunity to nominate me for that position but he put Annette Carper in that position because her last name’s Carper,” Pollock said. “They’re not a damn bit honest. I think we need a clean sweep of the entire city council. They’re the reason this town’s on life support.”
Pollock said that she doesn’t plan on stopping until the proverbial whistle blows, even if it means speaking the truth during difficult times. She’s politically moderate but takes an extreme position on bringing change to Macomb.
“My opponent had eight years to try to do something and he hasn’t done a blessed thing,” Pollock said. “If you want to keep going down this path, you’re going to kill Macomb. Macomb’s on life support and I’m the health care provider to bring it back.”
Those who vote for Pollock in Tuesday’s election must write “Kristen Pollock” in the space designated for write-ins.