NORMAL — Four Normal City Council candidates seeking three seats on the April 4 ballot hope to help the town focus on quality-of-life amenities and economic growth.
Council members are elected at-large in Normal.
Chemberly Cummings, a 34-year-old State Farm business architect who lives at 1416 Montgomery St., said she's running to "provide diversity of thought, experience and knowledge." She's the only female candidate for council, and would be the only African American member of the council.
"Many residents feel diversity and inclusion is just (tongue in cheek)," she said. "How (do) we make all citizens feel welcome?"
Cummings said she hopes to help officials keep "making the town of Normal not just a place to live, but a place to work and play."
"(That's about) finding new ways to attract businesses that can provide jobs to our community, as well as making our community attractive to where people want to live," she said.
Kevin McCarthy, a 52-year-old performance and lifestyle coach at PATH Performance who lives at 11 Grandview Drive, said his "motivation hasn’t changed really" since he first won a council seat in 2013.
“My focus has been to make Normal a place people love … a place that supports growth and development and supports all people who want to be a productive part of our community,” he said.
McCarthy said he also hopes “to ensure we have sound financial management” and "support responsible growth and development throughout all of Normal."
“We can’t wait for the state to fix its problems. We’ve got to work on collaborations, support local businesses and help young entrepreneurs,” he said of economic development.
Scott Preston, the 29-year-old founder and president of real estate company Tomorrow Enterprises LLC who lives at 405 Northridge Estates, has served one term on the council.
He said his goals are promoting economic growth, protecting taxpayers dollars and "protecting the great quality of life our families have come to cherish here in Normal — our basic services, public safety and parks and recreation — providing great service at an excellent value.”
Preston said officials need to focus on retaining students from local colleges and universities, including Illinois State, who "take those skill sets and plant their lives away from Normal.”
"We need to provide a great cost-of-living and quality of life that attracts people into coming and to staying,” he said.
Ron Ulmer, a 68-year-old real estate owner who lives at 1114 N. Linden St., said he believes "with the current revenues of the town of Normal, or even reducing taxes, we can still provide all of the infrastructure improvements and the amenities that the citizens most desire."
Ulmer said he's opposed to "subsidizing businesses competing with local businesses.” He specifically mentioned Portillo's restaurant, for which the town will relinquish $1.8 million in future sales tax revenue. “Think of what $1.8 million could do for building streets,” he said.
Ulmer said he would "also roll back some of the sales tax increase because that’s disadvantaging local businesses compared to the internet." The town increased its sales tax rate from 7.75 percent to 8.75 percent for 2016.
A fifth candidate, James Woods, is running as a write-in.