By Megann Horstead | For The Bugle
Candidates vying for one of three at-large council positions in the April 4 election looked to express their views and interests during a March 23 chamber luncheon.
The Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry held the forum with the intention of introducing the candidates, which 11 of the 15 attended. One other candidate submitted a statement to be read.
Brooke Hernandez Brewer wants to serve on the council for another term.
Hernandez Brewer noted that her passion lies within Joliet and said she wants everyone to know that it is her desire to see the city being regarded by her children, just as she does.
“I want to give them a city that makes them want to make the same choice my husband and I made and our parents made, which was to raise our family in Joliet,” she said.
Hernandez Brewer said among the many things she’d like to see through as a councilwoman includes an initiative bringing a pipeline of Lake Michigan Water to the City of Joliet.
Don Dickinson noted that he’s been very active in the community over the years and said he wants to serve the community in another capacity, but this time around as a council member.
“The reason why I’m running is because I want to help bring better paying jobs to Joliet,” he said. “I feel it’s important. We have so many jobs out there that are in warehouses, and people sometimes need to work more than one job, just to survive. It shouldn’t be that way.”
Dickinson said the city must also work on its long-term bonding to improve public infrastructure.
“You can’t go down your neighborhood street without seeing a patch,” he said. “That’s simply unacceptable. We need to work on our streets. We need to work on our infrastructure.”
Jan Quillman noted that she’s been serving the residents for Joliet the last 12 years and said though she’s seen the city experience tough times, she wants to see it continue to thrive.
“We’ve worked hard for those tough years, and since then, we have seen stabilization and growth,” she said. “Thousands of jobs have been brought into the city and many corporate headquarters are now considering moving to Joliet. Building permits are up for residential, commercial, and industrial projects. These add up to increasing the city’s tax base.”
Quillman said she has a number of priorities she’d like to take on if re-elected.
“I want to continue to work for the residents, keep the economy growing strong, keep property taxes down while improving our infrastructure and city services, expand our police department and in turn expand our neighborhood policing to keep our neighborhoods safe, attract new business, and help secure a new water source to [avoid] a problem in the future,” she said. “We are the crossroads of mid-America, and Joliet is experiencing a new renaissance. We are in this together, and we are a city for everyone. I want to continue with the work we have started.”
Michael Turk said many good things are happening in Joliet and he wants this trend to continue.
“The downtown looks like it’s on the verge of some great developments,” he said.
Turk said with all that’s happening in the city, he hopes that he can continue to serve on the council and make a difference moving forward.
“I appreciate the time I have spent on the city council, and it’s a position I take very seriously,” he said. “It takes a lot of hours to perform my duties as a council person effectively. I have strived to do that with a high degree of integrity.”
Rachel Ventura was not in attendance for the luncheon, but submitted a statement to be read.
Ventura wants to work with the City Center Partnership to ensure Joliet becomes a tourist destination.
Ventura intends to change the city’s image by bringing up policing levels and reintroducing programs in the schools, such as Drug Abuse Resistance Education.
Betty Washington referenced the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and said her aspiration is it to serve the community as an advocate for quality education, jobs that pay a living wage and economic growth and development for every segment of the city.
“I hope to become an instrumental member of the city council using all my energies to bring about constructive and positive change, which affects all residents of the City of Joliet,” she said.
Washington added that she has a sincere interest in serving all of the city’s residents, not just a select few.
Diane Harris said she’s worked hard to achieve what she’s accomplished over the years and said now that she’s retired, it’s time to work for the community where she lives.
“My focus is to promote innovativeness, cleaning up our corridors and reducing crime thorough ordinance enforcement [to] make the city more inviting to new businesses,” she said.
Harris said she’s ready to work for the people.
“As an alternative to raising taxes, I support renewable energy projects,” she said. “I am the only candidate in the race with experience who has hands-on experience in the U.S. infrastructure [system.]”
Mark Ragusa said he thinks that he holds a good understanding of the community and the things its people value.
“My father was a battalion chief on the Joliet Fire Department and my uncle was a captain on the Joliet Police Department,” he said. “I feel I have a good perspective on how important those departments are to the city and to the residents of Joliet.”
Ragusa said he has many transferrable skills and hopes to use them by serving on the council.
“I have managed multi-million dollar projects as well as large staffs of engineers,” he said. “I’ve always been able to foster good relationship between all levels of staff, bringing consensus and driving successful solutions.”
“I’m running for Joliet City Council because I believe we need strong, innovative leadership to continue to grow the city that I believe in,” he said. “I can use my leadership and management skills to accomplish those goals.”
Roger Powel Sr. said the reason he’s running is because he believes in “giving back.”
“I’m a worker, I’m not the type of person to sit back and just talk,” he said. “I get things done.”
Powell wants to see city open up Chicago Street.
“You have to understand that this is very, very important,” he said.
Alex Rodriguez said he’s running because he believes the city has fallen behind when it comes to its neighbors.
“I believe in this city,” he said “I believe that the American dream is alive in this city. I’ve been blessed to live it. When I first came to live in Joliet, my family and I stayed at the Daybreak Center. Now, my wife and I own a home in the [heart] of it.”
Rodriguez wants to see the city thrive.
“I believe that government’s role should be to empower people, encourage home ownership, encourage small business,” Rodriguez said. “I believe in limited government, low taxes, low-regulation. I think that’s the kind of things that empower people and empower business.”
Larry Crawford said he’s honored to live in a strong city where there are 14 other candidates looking to run for city council.
“I think that speak volumes about the kind of city we have,” he said.
Crawford wants to help the city to grow.
“I think the experience of some of the people who are running is going be useful in terms of what the future might hold for our city, but at the same time we could [really be enriched] by a candidate, like myself, who will bring the voice of the people to that council and represent you,” he said.
Candidates who did not attend or send statements were Christian Egwunwoke, Nathaniel Romeo and Michelle Stiff.
A candidate luncheon, hosted by the Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce &, featured introductions by 11 of 15 individuals running for open at-large city council positions. (Megann Horstead / For The Bugle)