Annette Carper hopes to continue in the third ward

Steven Barnum , News editor

Long-time Macomb resident Annette Carper will be on the ballot for Alderman in the third ward.

Carper has served on the city council since August 2018. After graduating from Macomb High School and Western Illinois University, Carper decided to stay and raise a family in the town that she’s felt at home in since she was 11-years-old.

She spent 15 years as the Deputy Director of the McDonough County Housing Authority and also has experience in social services, retail and restaurant management. Currently, she is the Executive Director of Lamoine Retirement Living, which opened its doors in downtown Macomb last year. Carper trusts that her job experience is helpful for the council.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to work with people all these years,” she said, “people who have different backgrounds or who are living with limited income. My eyes really opened to diversity throughout the time I’ve been in management.”

Politics was never one of Carper’s favorite aspects of life, but she remains passionate about working to solve the issues facing Macomb. She said that she treats the city council as a business and the weekly city council meetings as business meetings. In addition to representing the third ward on the city council, she is also on the Transportation Committee, the Historical Preservation Committee and the Census Committee.

Throughout her time on the city council, Carper learned about the importance of listening to opposing views and working together to pass ordinances that work for the town.

“It’s a city council that knows how to work together, but there are times when not everyone is in agreement,” Carper said. “But I don’t think disagreements are a bad thing because it lets us see different perspectives. There’s a lot of experience on that council so I always try to listen what their views are. I also try to listen to the public to see what their concerns are and how we can address them.”

Fiscal responsibility and being able to function as a city government without making drastic cuts will be a challenge, according to Carper. As a member of the Census Committee, she said that the city is fully committed to getting the highest and most accurate count that they can.

When brainstorming, Carper said that the town needs to be creative. Whether that means embracing Macomb’s strong health care opportunities and emphasizing its strengths as a retirement community or simply being more aggressive when marketing the town’s existing strengths, Carper doesn’t think that Macomb is limited in potential.

“People in this community work really hard to grow our town,” she said. “Working downtown showed me what they are doing to help. I think that it’s a challenge but I also look for the opportunities that we have and try to think positively. We just have to learn to think differently.”

Carper thinks that there is plenty of reason for change at Western, especially after the layoffs, the Board of Trustees violation and the University’s inability to attract new students as of recent. She talked about how the rebound at Eastern Illinois University is an example of why the state shouldn’t take the sole blame for Western’s problems. The blame should also fall on the University’s marking deficiencies.

“If you have a business that’s declined the way that Western has, then you’d have to look at upper management. The University has to be marketing all the time. We have a lot to offer and we definitely need to do a better job. There needs to be a change in the management.”

After Mellie Gilbert retired, Mayor Mike Inman selected Carper to fill the seat. Surprised but flattered by the opportunity, Carper accepted the position and was appointed with unanimous approval. While some contenders for the seat couldn’t accept the job due to time constraints, Carper was happy to find a way to fill the void.

“I appreciated the opportunity to be considered for such a position and for being recognized for the skills I can bring to the city council,” Carper said. “I’ve seen all the changes that have occurred in Macomb and with the University and I would like the opportunity to continue to help contribute to the community.”

Carper will face challenger Gregg Huston in Tuesday’s race.