Meet Alderman At-Large Dennis Moon

Steven Barnum , News editor

From living in Macomb for his entire life, Dennis Moon is able to see the challenges that lie ahead for the town.

The Alderman At-Large was the first person to serve in the position after its creation in the early 2000s. At one point, Macomb had more than a dozen aldermen, but Moon and then-Mayor Tom Carper thought it would be best to trim the council down. Currently, there are two Alderman At-Large positions and one alderman for each ward in Macomb.

Moon went to school as an infant at Western Illinois University’s nursery school and then graduated from the University after high school.

“Most of my life, I’ve lived within two or three blocks from the University,” Moon said. “That’s why I’m so familiar with WIU.”

With the recent downward spiral in enrollment at Western compared to how it was in the University’s heyday, Moon has witnessed the lowest and highest levels of success. He believes that Western’s current hardships are the toughest obstacle in Macomb’s path to astrong economy.

“The impact that it has on the community and the region is tremendous,” Moon said. “We all know that it’s going to come back. It’s not going to happen overnight, but it didn’t get to where it’s at overnight.”

One of the probable impacts of the University’s recent decline will be a loss of the city’s population. Fewer contributions and tax dollars will come into the community with fewer students, which could make for tougher decisions in the future. When it comes to ways that the city could cut costs, Moon doesn’t like his options.

“If we’re going to lay off people, we’ll have to reduce services. There’s a lot of people who think we’ve already reduced services far enough. And I’m not for raising fees or raising taxes, but sometimes the state will come in and mandate what we have to do, which puts a burden on the user. I know what my water bill is compared to when I came to the council and I’m not real happy about it either. When the state says you have to do it, you don’t have a choice,” he said.

Moon brings decades of experience through construction, hospitality and retail to the city council. He helped run a downtown bar that was a popular hangout amongst college students. He also partnered with local businessman Mike Carper to open the Jackson Street Pub, which remains in the community today. Currently, he operates a clothing store withhis wife.

When the legal age to consume alcohol changed from 19 to 21, it was much less profitable to own a bar in Macomb, prompting Moon to open another restaurant. After a fire destroyed the establishment in the early 2000s, it would appear that Moon was a victim of circumstances that were out of his control. He knows that it all paid off.

“Experience like this helps in your decision making,” Moon said. “Everyone brings a different skillset to the council and I just happened to have had a wide variety of opportunities over the years. It helps to have people on the council who are used to meeting payroll and paying rent. It’s a good point of view to have when representing the city.”

During a time when attendance at city council meetings is low, Moon welcomes more public involvement. He said that whether it’s a zoning issue or a budget discussion, it’s all important.

“I would love to see more people engaged and inform themselves,” he said. “It’s all there for anyone to examine. They should be aware of the backstory and everything that goes intoour decisions.”

Collectively, Moon believes that the current city council is effective when making decisions that are in the city’s best financial interests. There are times when he feels that he needs to take a stand, but civil discourse is part of the job.

“The majority of the time, we’re on the same page,” Moon said. “Naturally, you’re going to have a difference of opinion. I’ll argue with somebody, but one of the things I’ve learned over the years is that it’s not personal. I like to think I’m open enough to listen to their side of it, take a rational look at it and come up with what’s best for the city.”