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A new year and a fresh start

By Wayne Horne | 1/7/2021, 6 a.m.

The beginning of every new year usually carries the desire for a fresh start on positive behaviors and the discarding of old habits. That probably won’t happen quite that way this new year of 2021. Oh, there will be the resolutions some individuals will make regarding weight loss and saving more money for retirement. There will also be the usual predictions by Nostradamus that always seem to coincide with whatever relevant events happen to be occurring and include the always soon to happen disaster.

Joliet’s new year promises to be filled with change. Elections in April will put a new face on the Joliet City Council when at least two new At-Large City Council members will be elected. The only incumbent, Jan Quillman, faces off against 12 other candidates vying for the At-Large council seat. Four years ago, Quillman was number two on the ballot. This time she is number 12.

In the meantime, newly appointed At-Large Council Member, Herb Lande, is being tasked with some major decisions before his appointment expires in May. That’s when the newly elected council members will take their seats. One major decision is the employment of a new City Manager. It’s been promised the positioned will be filled by then, but who knows, it’s been speculated the position would be filled with a full-time City Manager for over two years now.

Councilman Lande’s other big decision will help determine how Joliet will access Lake Michigan as the City’s new drinking water source. Interestingly, neither of those two decisions is listed as a priority as expressed in his “Goals for the city” that are contained in his Biography on the City of Joliet’s website.

The beginning of a new year is always a good time to review how resolutions made in the past have fared. I checked back on how much progress has been made on some of Mayor Bob O’Dekirk’s objectives for overall reform of Joliet government that were outlined in a report put forth by him in 2015.

Many of the objectives have either been accomplished or are in process. Several recommendations still remain unaccomplished or barely addressed. The number two objective in the document has to do with updating a industrial developments like warehouses. Also not yet completed is a four-to-five-year projection of revenues and comprehensive community plan. Such a plan would help avoid conflicts between residential development and expenses as part of a Budget report. An uncertain financial future is no longer a possibility but a certain challenge making projections necessary. Federal and State of Illinois financial rescues are not predicted anytime soon.

One more notable finding in the review of the 2015 Mayors Transition Report regards Joliet’s physical appearance, sometimes referred to as “curb appeal.” It states “…that the current perception of Joliet is a town that is unclean and littered with weeds and overgrown foliage at the entrances to the City as well as the downtown area.” This is as true today as it was in 2015. The report also suggests that the City of Joliet needs a good physical cleaning to boost our civic image as well as our economic viability to prospective businesses looking to locate in Joliet. You know, Curb Appeal.

One observation that has been made in the past about Joliet is that the City of Joliet is often reactive rather than proactive. I believe that image has been trending toward a more proactive inclination in recent years. The lack of political will to work together has stilted the ability to move forward on Joliet’s overall progress. Perhaps the new year and a changing face in city government will provide the best outcomes possible.

Stay tuned…

Contact Wayne at wayneswords@thetimesweekly.com