DANVILLE — The election for Danville City Council Ward 7 Alderman has a newly appointed alderman running for the first time against another who also was a possible appointment.
Darren York was appointed in January to the seat vacated by longtime Ward 7 Alderman Steve Foster who resigned.
Opposing York is Kaylan Huber.
The Commercial-News sent questionnaires to candidates in the April 6 consolidated election.
1. Why did you decide to run for office/seek re-election?
York: I have considered running for alderman for the Danville City Council for several years. I have always had an interest in local and state politics. I believe I have insight and understanding that is valuable for improving the city of Danville. I want Danville to be a safe place for my children and family to live and grow up. As a child I moved around frequently with my family and we never stayed in one place too long. I have been a part of the Danville community for the past 20 years and call it home. I am proud to be a Danville resident and believe Danville has a lot to offer current residents and families moving into the area. While I have seen many changes in Danville over the past two decades, I see a bright future for Danville. I see opportunities for Danville to grow and to introduce new industries and jobs to the city. I see local law enforcement making changes and working hard to improve the Danville community and decrease crime. I see the Vermilion County Health Department and local health organizations working overtime to address the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. I see the leadership, teachers and staff of the Danville school district developing strategies to continue educating the students of Danville during one of the most trying times we have experienced over the past decades. I see small business owners in Danville implementing creative strategies to remain relevant and keep their doors open despite the struggles that the COVID pandemic has caused. These things have encouraged me to be part of the Danville City Council so I can help maintain the momentum and positive trajectory I see the city of Danville moving in.
Huber: I believe that my experience and community involvement will lend a beneficial perspective to the current city council. I fundamentally believe that public servants should leave an office better than when they went into office. It is imperative that our residents feel heard and know that their local government is transparent and willing to listen to their concerns.
2. What are the top two challenges for the city, and how should they be solved?
Huber: Declining infrastructure and attracting new businesses into our area. The overarching issue is allocating a finite number of resources and triaging them to the most important areas. It is especially important that those issues are adequately conveyed to the public, so that they may be informed and have time to make their voices heard.
York: I believe the top two challenges for the city of Danville at this time are continuing to move in a positive direction with the reduction of the COVID virus in our community, and maintaining the positive direction the city is moving concerning a balanced budget. Through cooperative efforts from local health providers, the Vermilion County Health Department, local businesses, and community organizations, the city of Danville has been able to offer an increasing number of vaccines to at-risk populations, frontline workers/providers, and community residents in general. Many local business have actively participated in efforts to minimize the transmission of the coronavirus, and continue to utilize strategies/social distancing to reduce exposure. My recent experience on the city council has made me aware of the efforts that city council and city leaders are working to maintain a balanced budget and avoid irresponsible spending. I have seen firsthand the excellent work done by Mayor Williams, the city comptroller and other city personnel, striving to rein in spending, secure grants and funding that will enable projects to be undertaken with full funding, partial funding and minimal contribution from the city. While these efforts will need to continue, the city leadership and city council are establishing a new pattern of fiscal accountability/responsibility that can only benefit the city in the future. In considering future challenges that the city of Danville will encounter, I believe the major difficulty will be identifying and developing strategies to address ongoing pension obligations for law enforcement, fire fighters and city personnel. While I do not have immediate solutions to resolve this issue, with the collective intelligence and wisdom of the Danville City Council, and the leadership of Mayor Williams, I have confidence that the city council can attack this concern and begin to make headway in addressing the challenge. While campaigning in Ward 7 I have had the opportunity to speak directly with many constituents. I have heard concerns about the condition of roads, but with my recent experience on the city council, I am aware that many of these concerns are being addressed as quickly, and as effectively as possible. Several constituents also noted concern with a perceived lack of communication from the city to residents. I have also discovered that the city makes every effort to communicate with residents through press releases and social media. If residents don’t have access to local newspapers (print or electronic versions or popular social media applications) they may miss out on the frequent communications that the city of Danville provides. I am currently thinking about ways/strategies to help these residents access information and important notifications made available by the city, when they do not subscribe to local newspapers or utilize various social media platforms.
3. Give the city a grade (A, B, C, D or F) and explain your answer on how well you think it has operated during the coronavirus pandemic.
York: I think Mayor Williams, the Danville City Council and many organizations in the community have worked very diligently during the coronavirus pandemic to guide the city in the right direction. While I believe the city has operated well during the pandemic, I think the city of Danville has earned an overall grade of B during the pandemic mainly because some residents do not take the threat of the coronavirus seriously. While I see many residents following recommended mask usage and social distancing protocols in public situations, I also observe some residents going without masks and ignoring recommended strategies to minimize transmission of the virus. I clearly understand that individuals have a personal choice and opinion concerning the COVID-19 virus, but for the benefit of others, and the community as a whole, I have chosen to abide by the recommended precautions to reduce potential exposure/transmission of the virus. I personally know too many individuals that have suffered from the virus, and even died, to not take the virus seriously.
Huber: I would have to give the city a C. One of the main issues residents of Ward 7 have expressed is the lack of communication or involvement with council meetings, now that they are on Zoom/YouTube Live. The link for the meetings is posted on the city’s website; however, there does not seem to be any sharing of the link in community groups—no one from the city is actively encouraging residents to participate. Residents have felt out of the loop, and I think that is something the city could do better. The important thing is to look forward at what can be accomplished. We need to talk to residents, see what issues they are struggling with during these trying times, and take action as a city.
4. Any other comments?
Huber: I am thankful for the opportunity to run for Ward 7 alderwoman, and I believe I am the best candidate to represent the folks in Ward 7.
York: I believe the election of Mayor Rickey Williams has been a positive change for the city of Danville. Mayor Williams is a dedicated resident of the city and is one of the biggest cheerleaders I know for the city of Danville. Mayor Williams inherited a city budget that was running at a deficit. Through Mayor Williams’ efforts, responsible fiscal management, leadership and hard work by the Danville City Council, the city budget is now balanced and no longer running at a deficit. With my recent experience on the city council, I have been impressed with the efforts the city is making to address the issue of abandoned and derelict properties in the community. The city is working to acquire buildings and utilize grants/funding to demolish run-down buildings so neighborhoods can begin to be revitalized.