PEORIA, Ill.-- Among the issues the 3 candidates for Peoria's first district council seat met to discuss on Saturday, was a recent proposal to out source code enforcement services.
The Southside Neighborhood Council, along with the Peoria County League of Women Voters and others, hosted the forum featuring candidates Denise Moore, Gary Sandberg and Randall Emert.
The trio faced several questions about the outsourcing proposal.
Preliminary plans call for the city's housing inspectors to be replaced by a contractor. The private contractor would be secured through a bidding process, with the goal of saving the city money.
Candidate Denise Moore told the crowd she is skeptical of outsourcing this department.
Moore said, "I'm afraid when you bring in people who are just going to come and tick the box then they community suffers. And I don't want to community to suffer anymore than it already has."
Moore says if the processes are not in place in City Hall to take action on the properties that are written up, that is not the problem of the code enforcer.
Candidate Randall Emert says that zoning laws and code enforcement is just as important to the community as police officers.
Emert said, "The main thing I think a lot of folks are concerned about is the crime and the way our neighborhoods are and the neglect of our neighborhoods because of vacant houses and lack of zoning and lack of enforcement. You can't live in a neighborhood with boarded up houses and windows with vermin and rats running through all of the property."
District One Candidate and current at-large councilman Gary Sandberg indicates he needs to hear more before deciding his vote on the future of code enforcement.
Sandberg said, "I don't care how it happens... that's what you'll get with me as district 1 city council. I have been the one on the council to question outsourcing. I'm not going to be gullible and just do it because it's a trend. But unfortunately all the bad investments the city has made have created a financial upside down cake and we have to look at all available options."
While the three candidates did not all completely agree on whether or not to outsource, they all want to see a major clean up of neighborhoods in the first district.
The code enforcement issue is expected to soon come before the Peoria City Council for more discussion.
The primary election to decide which two of the three candidates' moves on to the April vote is February 26th.