Election 2021: Normal Candidates for Council on Pandemic Recovery

Normal city council candidates turn the question of pandemic recovery efforts into a litmus test of past pandemic response, but say little about what should follow.

The city has already done some things to help the pandemic recover. He used federal community development grants for two rounds of housing assistance grants. It provided $ 500,000 in forgivable loans and grants to small businesses, again as a federal transfer.

Outgoing board member Kevin McCarthy said it showed positive attention to the issue.

“The city has been very successful in getting out and bringing back tax dollars to help our local residents,” McCarthy said.

All of the candidates are particularly silent about new steps the city can take to help the community recover. Indeed, incumbent Chemberly Cummings said there were budget limits.

“To be honest, I don’t think there’s really (a lot more to do locally). We’re already working on kind of a tight budget due to our losses from the pandemic, so I think we’ll eventually have to rely on federal and state level assistance, ”Cummings said.

As with most issues in this electoral cycle, there are two well-defined blocks of candidates when it comes to how the city should shape pandemic aid going forward.

The group consisting of Donna Toney, Steve Harsh and Karl Sila criticize the response to the pandemic so far and label future efforts as do not to do rather than specific actions to be taken.

“The main thing the city has to do is get out of the way. Much like the Hippocratic Oath, do no harm first,” Sila said.

Sila and the others believe the city shouldn’t have cracked down on some businesses that have insisted on disobeying the governor’s decree banning dining service during COVID outbreaks.

“The city is coming in and shutting them down without the involvement of the health department. With the city fining them for political reasons, all of this hinders rather than facilitates recovery,” Sila said.

Supporters of the indoor eating bans when they were in place have called the law enforcement measures a means to control the spread of the coronavirus – not a policy.

Sila said people should be able and make their own decisions.

Harsh also disagreed with the city’s action to support the state’s action to preserve public health.

“Allowing each business to be open and operate under its own control,” Harsh said. “If the governor wants all businesses closed, let the governor shut down all businesses.”

The fourth candidate in that group, David Paul Blumenshine, did not respond to requests for interviews from the WGLT, despite being known to be a government minimalist.

The other block of applicants tends to focus on actions such as suspending liquor license fees for a year. Among them, the chairman of the Planning Commission and candidate for the council, AJ Zimmerman.

“Allow take-out liquor sales or increase the number of outdoor seating so that we can achieve a certain level of capacity,” Zimmerman said.

Holder Scott Preston acknowledged that the alcohol license fee waiver was a small gesture, but said it should not be reduced.

“We bring a kind of relief and a kind of recognition that, at least, we hope it gets you through a tough year, acknowledging that they had already paid those fees for 2020 before the pandemic hit,” Preston says. .

He and his titular colleague, Kevin McCarthy, said the liquor license fee might only be around $ 3,000, but it’s big enough to mean something right now. McCarthy said the waiver is also an example of the creativity the board must have when new possibilities arise.

“We don’t have a ton of money to give. OK, we can waive some liquor license fee for a year. Maybe we can do it for two. It depends on how it goes. happening. But we have to be able to do it. Identify the most pressing needs, then get creative about what we can do to alleviate them. And that means we have to have a good conversation, “McCarthy said.

And candidate Brad McMillan said the conversation should include vigilance and responsiveness to future federal transmission opportunities.

“This new round of federal funds from Washington, DC has a restaurant and bar component. It should hopefully help them survive until we finally get around the corner,” McMillan said.

All applicants recognized that the road to recovery will be long. The election takes place on April 6.

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