Stephen Knight: Candidate Profile
Elgin City Council (4-year Terms)
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Note: Answers provided have not been edited for grammar, misspellings or typos. In some instances, candidate claims that could not be immediately verified have been omitted.
Office sought: Elgin City Council (4-year Terms)
Family: Married, 2 grown boys (the oldest is 37 and married, the youngest is 30 and single)I have a granddaughter from my oldest son.
Occupation: Merchandise Execution Associate for Home Depot.
Education: Irving High School Mountain View College - Business Administration Leadership Institute of Virginia '96 - Public policy and leadership.
Civic involvement: Eagle Heights Neighborhood Association board member, Elgin Public Muesum Board of Directors, CPAAA Member, DNA Member, American Legion Member
Elected offices held: None
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: NO
Key Issue 1
The preservation of our city's artifacts and heritage would be one of my top objectives if elected. Our museums are out of storage space. Artifacts are being lost due to poor storage conditions (flooding, lack of proper air conditioning etc). There are artifacts being stored all over the city, not just in the museums. Ex-Council members, Ex-Mayors, Ex-City employees and a number of others have historical items stored in basements, attics and the like; those are not even available to the public. Some have even tried to bring them into the museums for donation, only to be turned away due to lack of space, or time, or volunteers to catalog and store them. The city needs a central storage area for these items that is dry, air conditioned, well maintained and that will serve all three of the museums in our city, a place with a central display area and offices that can be used by staff and volunteers to catalog and research these items prior to display or storage. I have such a place in mind and would like the support of the citizens of Elgin to pursue this idea and make it a reality.
Key Issue 2
We need to maintain the city's AAA credit rating in order to keep our bond fees at a minimum and our ability to borrow money at an all time high. While doing this we also need to focus on maintaining our city's infrastructures such as police, fire, streets, water, sewer and other core services, all while keeping property taxes and fees to a minimum.
Key Issue 3
We need to further promote Elgin's image of one that is a safe community, diverse in its culture, its arts and with a growing technology sector. I believe this will help attract more quality businesses to Elgin, and thereby bring more revenue to the city's coffers and eliminate some of the tax burden on our citizens.
Should the city continue its opposition to allowing video gambling outside the grand Victoria?
In a word no. I think with some work and revisions to the current ordnances, we can come to some kind of agreement that will benefit all.
What is your position on the city's plans to to implement a stormwater utility fee in 2014?
To my knowledge the city does not have "PLANS" to implement a storm water utility fee in 2014! It is my understanding that the city has approved and is going ahead with a storm water study to find out just how severe our storm water runoff is and what is going to be required to repair it and to come into compliance with the IEPA and EPA regulations. It is yet to be seen if this is going to require the addition of a fee or tax
Do you support the city funding the $900,000 overhaul of the Eastside Recreation Center? What do you think of closing Eastside and consolidating operations with The Centre of Elgin?
If elected I would have no input as to what has already been spent. The money has been spent and the work is almost completed. As for closing it, No, I do not believe closing the ERC would be prudent at this time. The citizens in the Far East and Southeast neighborhoods have made ERC their home and to close it now would be an injustice to them and a waste of taxpayers? money.
What is your view on the city's recent property tax levying history and imposition of other charges, such as the refuse fee?
I have lived in cities all over the U.S. and overseas. This was the first and only city I lived in where I did not have to pay for waste disposal separately from my property taxes. So for me it was nothing different. The cost of waste disposal keeps going up and people keep complaining about their property taxes going up. So, the city lowered the Property tax levy and, in order to keep garbage from piling up in people's front yards, they imposed a waste disposal fee. That fee I might add can be changed and adjusted to fall in line with what the citizens are actually utilizing. But to say put it back on property taxes would be doing them an injustice. I know everyone feels they are being charged fees and taxed to death, but what else can be done? It costs money to provide services and unlike the U.S. Government, we cannot just print more. A fee charged for a service is the most equitable way of having someone pay for the services they receive, instead of having businesses pay for something they are already paying for directly. As for some of the other fees charged, alcohol tax, gasoline tax, electricity tax, etc., those are user based fees and are designed to give the user an option. If you don't want to pay the alcohol tax, you have the option not to drink. Don't want to pay high electricity taxes, use less electricity. Almost all of the fees that have been imposed are designed to be paid by both residents and nonresidents. Anytime nonresidents help pay for our services it is a WIN for our residents. Let me put this quite simply, nonresidents do not pay property taxes, but they do pay user fees.
The Elgin Symphony Orchestra wants the city to resume its yearly disbursement of Riverboat funds to the ESO. Do you support this? Why or why not?
I was quite frankly riding the fence on this one. That is until the ESO presentation at the Council Meeting on January 23rd. Having listened to their presentation, I feel they are not entitled to the funds. They have consistently overspent and as a result they are in dire need of a new board and a complete overhaul of their management structure. Thanks to the fine volunteer work of their interim CEO, Mr. David Bearden, they have the ability to accomplish this. But by Mr. Bearden's own admission, the $150,000.00 per year for 3 years is not necessary, but wouldonly make it easier?. In addition, this issue stretches into the concerns over the failure of the Hemmens to meet city code and ADA requirements, which will have to be addressed. If the city awards them the money, who is going to make it easier for the citizens of Elgin who pay taxes? So, I will not support the spending of $450,000.00 over a 3 year period on an organization that cannot or will not help themselves, and still owes the city back rent on the Hemmens.
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