GENESEO -- Nadine Palmgren is challenging two-term Geneseo Mayor Linda Van Der Leest in the March 18 municipal election.|
An attorney and partner in Stone & Palmgren, Ms. Palmgren said restoring citizen advisory committees and hiring a city administrator are key issues.
Ms. Van Der Leest, a high school guidance counselor, said the cost of pensions and health care is the most critical issue before.
A native of Geneseo, Ms. Palmgren has practiced law here since 1993. She has been an adjunct professor of business law at Black Hawk College and St. Ambrose University.
"I have the unique combination of business skills and legal background that have provided me with the skills, education and experience to lead Geneseo into the future," she stated.
Ms. Palmgren said she wants to restore citizen advisory boards and hire a city administrator in addition to other plans.
Ms. Palmgren said citizen advisory boards ensure issues are well-vetted prior to council meetings. The boards were dropped in 2011.
"I believe that citizen advisory boards are essential in providing a proper city government and are a wealth of information, opinions and ideas for problem solving," she added.
Ms. Palmgren said the city needs to replace Melissa Steirer, who resigned as administrator last October within weeks of taking the job. She said proper administration of day-to-day operations is important.
"We need stability in the city government and need to fill the city administrator position.
"The position has had several administrators in the last four years," she continued. "Hiring a full-time administrator will add stability to an already dedicated team of city employees. I believe that if you hire good competent people, then you should not micro-manage that person. If proper people are hired for city positions, we save taxpayers' dollars by eliminating high turnover and the cost of training new employees. We are fortunate to have many city employees who are dedicated and are an asset to this community."
Ms. Palmgren also said she wants council agendas and monthly budgets to be more accessible to residents. She said she wants to restore fall city clean-up and she would work to re-establish the Geneseo division of the Henry County Circuit Court.
"Having the court located in Geneseo provided convenient services to our citizens as well as providing revenue for the city and local businesses," she said.
Ms. Van Der Leest, who defeated two-term mayor Patrick Eberhardt in 2010 and was unopposed in 2012, said she'd like a new term to continue work on economic development, balanced budgets, infrastructure improvements and networking with other city leaders.
She said the city's financial picture has improved since she took office in 2010
"I am happy to report that this current budget will be balanced, as it was last year. These financial gains will be used to continue to provide reliable and consistent services, and allows us to make the necessary updates and improvements in our infrastructure, parks and streets. We've completed the South State Street project without incurring any debt. This was a huge undertaking.
"The city's electric utility has been upgraded to keep pace with the new technology and distribution efficiency. Our water and sewer distribution system is being studied and we have started a program to upgrading wherever possible.
"Safety remains a priority with a well-trained and experienced police force," she said.
She said the city will continue to fully fund pensions, and has adopted a wellness program for all city employees and retirees to address the escalating costs of health care.
In sum, the mayor said, "Finances are improving, businesses are improving; there's a renewed positive energy in Geneseo and we're moving in a good direction. We're keeping residents more informed through our city website and re-instituting our city newsletter."
The candidates for mayor
Name: Nadine Palmgren
Family: Spouse, Jerry; blended family of five
Education: Geneseo High School; master's degree in business administration, St. Ambrose; doctorate in law, Drake University
Political experience: None
Most Important issues: Giving residents a voice, hiring city administrator and reinstating advisory boards
Name: Linda Van Der Leest
Family: Father, Donald; brother, Larry; nephew and niece, all of Morrison
Education: Morrison High School; bachelor's degree, University of Wisconsin-Platteville; master's degree, Western Illinois University
Occupation: High school guidance counselor
Political experience: Second Ward alderman 2006-10; mayor since 2010; Illinois Municipal League vice president; Northwest Municipal League President
Most Important issue: Cost of pensions and health care