Macomb voters will choose who will serve as the city's mayor for the next four years when they go to the polls on April 2. Current Mayor Mike Inman is running for a third term. He is not opposed on the ballot, but Kristen-Diane Pollock is running as a write-in candidate for mayor.
Inman said he is a life-long resident of Macomb. He currently serves as president of the Illinois Municipal League. He retired from the Illinois State Police. Inman previously served on the Macomb City County and the McDonough County Board prior to being elected mayor in 2011. He was unopposed in 2015.
The position of mayor is non-partisan, but when asked about political affiliation, Inman said he does lean Republican. Still, he said there’s no room for partisan politics in local government. “What I love about Macomb is we don’t ask what party you’re affiliated with, we just want you to come help us and make the community better and we have people who are willing to put those national political issues behind them and roll up their sleeves and get things done,” Inman said.
TSPR’s interview with Mike Inman includes discussion about the city’s efforts to advocate for WIU, the city’s web presence, and his role as a cheerleader for Macomb. Listen to the full interview at the audio link above and read some the interview highlights below.
Inman said economic development has been one of his main interests during his eight years in office and that he has worked to better coordinate such efforts among the Macomb Area Economic Development Corporation, the Macomb Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Macomb Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Inman said he’s learned a lot in that arena. “What I’ve found out is that if you don’t have a lot of experience in doing that you could be a little naïve and that you make think it’s very simple, when in fact it’s not,” Inman said. “It requires more than just going out and shaking someone’s hand and saying, ‘Hey, would you like to come to Macomb and build something?’ Oh, if it were that easy.”
He said during his tenure as mayor, he’s developed better ways to promote Macomb and make it an attractive place to invest. “That’s what its about. Relationship building is very important, but at the end of the day it becomes a dollars and cents equation.”
Inman discussed some of the challenges he and MAEDCO’s Kim Pierce have faced as they try to bring new development into the old K-Mart building. He said the city is also working to encourage local entrepreneurship and small business development efforts such as the downtown small business development competition last summer.
When Inman first ran for mayor, he outlined plans to focus on job creation, infrastructure, and economic development. He said those are issues the city remains focused on today.
“They don’t really ever go away; it’s about how we manage them and what our plans are for dealing not only with the present, but with the future. We have a lot of community leaders on the same page now, we have great staff in city hall, and department managers in city government,” Inman said. “Now, that doesn’t mean all these things and our challenges will go away.”
Inman discussed some of the infrastructure needs of the community and reflected on the passage of the one-cent sales tax levy to support infrastructure improvements. “Part of the downside of that is we were projecting we would be collecting about $2 million a year in that fund. But some things out of our direct control – a decline in enrollment at Western, the proliferation of internet sales, we don’t collect any of the tax on internet sales right now.”
Inman said the city is collecting about $1.7 million through the tax each year, which has caused the city to scale down some road projects.
Challenges ahead for Macomb:
Inman said one of the biggest challenges is the 2020 census. Currently the city collects between $130-$150 per person per year in shared revenue from the state and federal government.
“So if we were to see a decline or an increase in population we’ll say of a thousand people, we’re talking $150,000 net increase or net decline in revenue,” Inman said.
Inman said he’s concerned that population will be down given the declines in student enrollment at Western Illinois University.
The census is scheduled for April 1, 2020. Inman said the city already plans to conduct a special census in an effort to capture higher student enrollment numbers typically seen during the fall semester at Western.
Inman said two area manufacturing businesses, Pella and NTN Bower, are expanding their operations. “Those are good paying jobs, folks are treated well, and it’s a good place to work.”
He said NTN Bower is approaching 1,000 employees. In comparison, the community’s largest employer, Western Illinois University, reported it had 1,800 workers in Macomb during the fall semester.