Q. Please provide your background information: Are you married? Do you have children? What is your work, military, and/or education history,etc.?
A. I live in Morris on Edgewater Drive. I have a daughter, Jordan, and son, John Michael. After completing active duty at Ft. Riley, Kan., I am presently employed by the U.S. Army and serve as a Battalion Commander. I also perform military funeral honors duty in the Chicago area for Veterans of World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and more recent conflicts. I hold a bachelor of science in Accounting from the University of Kentucky and a master’s of science in Administration from Central Michigan University. I attended numerous military schools, including the Command and General Staff College, the Defense Language Institute-Arabic Course, and the Army Civil Affairs Advance Course. I have further training in Counter Narcotics, Safety, Military Intelligence, and Contracting.
Q. How will your military experience and previous job experience help you to be a good leader for the city?
A. The number one goal of any leader is to take care of the people, while completing the task at hand. I have been a public servant my entire adult life. I lead by example, that is how I’ve been trained and that, in itself, is what makes a good leader. I listen and care about people’s concerns and provide a plan of action. Words without action are just words.
Q. You have not previously sat on any government boards or councils. Do you feel city residents would be warranted to have concerns with your lack of previous government experience as you pursue the city’s top office? If no, why should they not be concerned?
A. This is a good thing because I have an outside-the-box thought process. A nonpolitical person coming in to run our city efficiently for the people is what I bring; my opponents are career politicians and look where that has gotten us.
On a personal note, in high school I worked at the town grocery store as a bagger, working 35 to 40 hours a week, coming home at times after midnight, still determined in completing my studies until wee hours of the morning. I completed high school and graduated at the top 10 percent of my class and was accepted into the University of Kentucky, where I obtained my degree in accounting. During my college years, my mother, Mary Lou Brooks, passed when I was only 20 years old. Finding myself alone in this world with both parents gone by the time I was 20 was something I did not expect, nor prepare for. The year my mother passed, I received a two-year officers corps training scholarship with the United States Army and, in May of 1992, I was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant. My first duty assignment was as an Infantry Platoon Leader at Ft. Lewis, Wash. In the private sector, I began working as a plant supervisor for field container in Marseilles and later on as a materials manager in Morton Grove.
In between this time period, I was deployed on and off for nearly eight years on missions all around the world. After the events of Sept. 11, 2001, some of my unit deployed to Afghanistan, while others were sent to Ft. Bragg, N.C., in preparation for Operation Iraqi Freedom. I deployed to Tuzla, Bosnia, in 2003, where I served as Commander of U.S. Operations Forces – Bosnia, Stabilization Force 13. In 2004, I was selected for Active Duty, Command and General Staff College at Ft. Leavenworth, Kan., a year-long graduate-level military training for Field Grade Officer’s. While attending CGSC, I received my master’s degree in Administration.
I bring a skill set unmatched by my opponents and I will use the skills that I have acquired over the years to bring Morris to a higher level that all neighboring communities will envy. I know what it is like to struggle. I will help the residents not add to their burdens like my opponents have for the past four years.
Q. If you are elected, what are some of your goals you plan to accomplish in your term?(Please be specific).
A. Reduce crime, lower taxes, bring in new business with good-paying jobs, and support our local schools.
1) Conduct a thorough audit to identify inefficiencies and return TIF money to our schools and, in turn, lower taxes.
2) Refocus the police department on crime, instead of politics, and energize our Neighborhood Watch program.
3) Update our city’s business practices, such as competitive bidding on engineering projects, collection of water bill revenue, and increased communication with the residents through existing technology.
4) Institute an economic development program that brings more jobs to the city in high-growth industries.
Q. One of the more debated topics among the community is the new Municipal Services Facility. Some in the community have voiced the city spent too much money on the building, do you agree?
A. Building this and wasting valuable city resources during the greatest recession to hit our country since the Great Depression is not good politics. Government needs to shrink and our businesses need to grow, that’s how things should work. Both my opponents have been asleep at the switch, while our vacant store fronts keep growing by the day. Spend less, tax less and restore a solid local economy by attracting high-paying manufacturing and professional positions to our city.
Q. A year ago thecouncil voted against a host agreement to expand Environtech Landfill. With one landfill at capacity and another coming close, if elected, what do you plan to do to handle the city’s garbage?
A. Everything must be done to ensure the safety and quality of our water supply. If, in fact, landfill expansion would put that at risk, by all means another solution must be presented. My opponents plaster all over their campaign literature how they (in an election year) voted against expansion, but have failed to come up with a solid solution. Many communities are debating this same scenario, the reality of it all is that research and development resources must be dedicated to solving this problem. Under my administration, a plan of action will be at the forefront of my agenda, an ad hoc committee will be assembled, made up of professionals who reside in Morris to specifically tackle this issue head on.
The problem with my opponents is that both are stuck in the old mindset of the “outsider mentality.” When new professionals move into our community or long-time residents have asked them to help, they shut those people out and, as a result, our community as a whole suffers. As mayor, I plan on tapping into some of those brilliant minds and putting together a sound long-term solution in place. Our opponents have dropped the ball on this issue and it’s time we had some serious plans in place, removing all politics is my goal and that will be one of the first issues which I will put to bed once elected.
Beware of my opponents coming out now, during election time, and saying they have the answer to this problem. Both have taken too many years to solve this issue and it has cost the taxpayers dearly. It’s time for theright leadership and that’s what I bring to the table. I hope to earn your support, our city government has stagnated and lost touch with our community, and we simply cannot afford another four years of “good ole boy” politics. We need to join together and bring Morris to a higher level.
Q. For a number of years the city has had a bandshell in storage that has yet to be constructed or utilize. If elected, what is your plan for it and when can this be expected to be completed?
A. I will finish the job and never allow reckless expenditures like this happen again. This is a prime example of inefficient government; it illustrates the distinct differences between me and my opponents. The old papermill has been talked about for years, the bandshell as well. Both of my opponents talk about things, but do not deliver as promised. That will change under my administration and I look forward to doing things correctly the first time.
Q. Why are you the best candidate to be Morris’ mayor?
A. The voters will decide whether or not I’m thebest candidate. I am the only candidate that is not a politician; I do not owe any political party or politician anything. My boss will be the voters and I will work for the people, not special interests.
Morris voters were able to listen to all three candidates at a candidate forum hosted by the Morris Kiwanis. My opponents were light on facts and were more or less no different on the issues. Both denied Jewel a beer and wine permit, but gave a license to a political donor; both ignored violent crime statistics; both ignore the city auditor’s warnings; both do not think outside the box; both voted for the garbage tax; and both agree with each other more than they disagree.
I laid out my plan and vision and offer a true alternative to the direction our community is headed. I presented budgetary facts, auditing facts, business facts, crime facts, undesirable business facts, free market principal facts.
This Tuesday, Morris will have a choice. My opponents have been in officecollectively for nearly 20 years. The mayor boasts about Big R coming to town. That’s great, but what has Morris done since then? Nothing recent was discussed. Why? Because the Morris business community is on life-support and needs a decisive leader who will not play politics with its fragile economy.
The Brisbin Road interchange is already diverting traffic away from Route 47, thus creating less business traffic/ customers along our main corridor; once business is built in that corridor, it will only compound the problem and take more dollars away from existing businesses. I will be the backstop and raise our community to a higher level and lure a new manufacturing base to our community, in turn bringing good-paying jobs, not $10-an-hour warehouse jobs, but high-wage, salaried positions that will raise consumers’ disposable income, allowing them to save and buy in Morris. Long-term, FULL, tax abatements will be on the table to bring in those jobs.
I need your help and your vote this Tuesday.
Q. Please list any organizations, non-profits or groups you belong to.
A. U.S. Army, AMVETS, VFW, Army Family Support Group, Army Military Funeral Honors Team, Army Master Resilience Training Group, Army Ground Safety Officer Group.