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Village Vision News

Trustee candidate forum held at public library

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Four candidates for three seats on the village board of trustees introduced themselves to voters last week at a candidate forum in the Community Room at Forsyth Public Library.

Gretchen Murphy, a village resident and immediate past president of the event’s sponsor, Forsyth Sunrise Rotary Club, served as the evening’s moderator.

Each of the candidates began by explaining why they were running for the village board.

Incumbent Kerstin Trachtenberg described herself as “a fiscally conservative girl,” and said she wants to serve the community that’s been so good to her and her family. She said she wanted to focus on economic development, and she said this would be her last term.

Larry Reed, who has served for three terms, said this would be his last term also. He said the library has been one of his pet projects over the years. He said he’d like to serve one more term and one of his goals, he said, is to see that the library’s new roof is part of the next budget.

Jimmy Peck called himself a hometown guy with “some real ideas on how to move the village forward.” He spoke of his deep connection to Forsyth having grown up here and having attended school here from grades 1-12.

Sid Audiffred talked of his love for the community, which he described as excellent.

“We have no big issues to wrestle here, but we need to be prepared,” Audiffred said. He came to Illinois with Caterpillar in 1965 from his native Louisiana. He said it’s his first time running for any political office.

Renee Jones was the only candidate unable to attend, citing a previous obligation.

With municipalities across the state bracing for a likely dramatic cut in funding in the near future, much of the discussion centered on economic development and increasing sales tax revenue.

“It’s not looking good for malls anywhere in this country,” Trachtenberg said, adding that trustees should work with the mall to help bring events to it.

Reed said he thought the mall had been overbuilt from the beginning because developers thought the county would grow, which he said makes it appear emptier than it is.

“I think it’s still fairly viable,” he said. “Hobby Lobby is a good addition.”

Peck said he’d like to see a grocery store in the mall.

“We need a better relationship with the mall owners,” Peck said. “That may mean sending our economic development person to (visit them) to see what they need.”

Audiffred said he did not know what the vision of the mall owners is, but he said without it, “we’d be in big trouble.”

“Retail sales make up 75 to 85 percent of our operating budget,” Audiffred said. “So, (the mall) is important.”

All of the candidates said they would be easily accessible to residents to hear their concerns on issues. Each candidate also agreed with one questioner that occasional town-hall style meetings would be a good idea.

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