JOLIET – Tuesday will be the first election since former Councilwoman Susie Barber resigned her seat in Joliet City Council District Four.
Four candidates are running.
District Four covers much of the East Side, including the Collins Street commercial district, and a section of the near West Side that includes the Cathedral Area. Landmarks include St. Raymond’s Cathedral and Pilcher Park. But they also include the shuttered Joliet Correctional Center and U.S. Steel plant.
Foster is a union electrician who owns New Frontier Electrical Construction.
He said his business experience will help in keeping “a watchful eye on unforeseen expenses” for the city.
He grew up and lives in the Forest Park neighborhood and said District Four faces many of the issues it always has.
“My parents moved here in 1964, and I grew up in the area,” Foster said. “Some of the same problems that we had when I was a kid we still have. We don’t have streetlights and sidewalks. Our crime rate is higher than other areas. Our district does not have economic development.”
Putting streetlights in areas that don’t have them is important because of crime, he said.
“Safety in the community is No. 1,” Foster said. “Without a safe community, business is not going to come into our district.”
Councilwoman Bettye Gavin has been in office since May. She was appointed after Barber’s resignation.
Gavin is executive director of the Forest Park Community Center. She said her 30 years as a community advocate will be useful in representing the district if elected.
“We can include all of the residents in District Four to make sure we’re no longer neglected,” Gavin said. “That’s what I’m hearing most often is that District Four is being neglected.”
The biggest issue in District Four is crime, she said.
“We have got to address that to make it a safer community,” she said. “Have the community work with police officers to make the streets safer.”
District residents want a “youth initiative” to train people through the age of 25 for jobs, she said, adding that Joliet should explore a summer jobs program.
Guzman wants to market District Four to attract jobs and economic development.
“There is a lot of empty land undeveloped on Cass, on Collins and on Woodruff Road,” he said. “It’s just a matter of our being able to make our district safer, repairing our infrastructure and marketing our city.”
He is bilingual, and speaking Spanish will help reach many Hispanic residents in the district, Guzman said.
Wanting to add more police on the streets, Guzman said he also wants to see a police department with more minorities “to be a true reflection of our community.”
Guzman also said the city should look for tourism opportunities. His own ideas include a water taxi on the Des Plaines River, a walking tour of the Upper Bluff Street area and joint marketing of the Jacob Henry, Patrick Haley and Hiram Scutt mansions as a banquet destination point.
“We need to promote the city better to job creators,” he said.
Petrakos, an employee in the Illinois Secretary of State’s office, said his main goal if elected would be to give the district better representation.
“I work well with people. I like to get things done. If people have problems, I’m there to help them,” he said.
He said public safety and economic development are top issues. But Petrakos emphasized he would help residents and business owners with problems that affect them.
He believes he can cut red tape for people who need help from government. Petrakos said there was a situation where he contacted local officials to get ComEd to fix a deteriorating power pole that was a concern to a local business.
“People who have issues with their alleys, with their sidewalks, they want someone to call,” Petrakos said. “I’m there to help.”