BLOOMINGTON — Three candidates who want to be Ward 9 alderman for the Bloomington City Council have one thing in common: They all work for State Farm.
Kimberly Bray, 56, of 3212 Leafy Lane, is an attorney in the corporate law department. Greg Rodriguez, 50, of 507 Beacon Court, is a research analyst. Sheheryar Muftee, 37, of 2211 Biasi Blvd., is a systems analyst.
Each is vying for an elected office for the first time; Alderman Jim Fruin is not seeking another term.
Bray said the first thing she would do is find solutions to bring needed fire and emergency services into Ward 9 neighborhoods with faster response times.
"Ward 9 for some time has been challenged in regard to the level of fire and emergency services received," said Bray. "It just has to with the fact that we're the most remote location from any of the existing services and the fact that those services are very busy."
Bloomington Fire Chief Brian Mohr said it can take up to 12 minutes for his department to arrive at some northeast Bloomington neighborhoods because of the travel distance from existing fire stations. That's double the national benchmark response time of six minutes.
Bray said she wants to bring to the council her customer service and analysis abilities, problem-solving skills and knowledge from working in fire claims and catastrophe duty and operations.
"I am (running) now because it's that critical that I get involved now," said Rodriguez. "I sincerely believe that the city is on the wrong track. I sincerely believe we are overly focused on downtown. I think we're overly focused on things that are not core to what everyone believes the city should be doing."
Rodriguez' biggest concern, in the ward, city and area, is a shrinking local labor force.
"Our employment and labor force is the smallest they've been in a decade," said Rodriguez. "That is the biggest challenge. In a world where our labor force is shrinking, I believe our economy is shrinking. I'm not an economist so I can't prove that, but that is my assumption."
Rodriguez added: "In that kind of scenario, I think it makes the most sense to be a lot more conservative in how we spend our city's resources."
Muftee decided to run based on conversations with people in his ward "who believe, as I do, that the city needs more fiscally conservative representation."
His top priorities, based on concerns he has heard from ward residents, are infrastructure and street repair, and being an alderman who is accessible, said Muftee.
Muftee said he would have office hours; hold frequent town hall meetings; be accessible by phone, text and email; and use social media as a no-cost way of communicating.