Hall running for mayor
By Mike Kroll
Former second ward alderwoman Margaret Hall has joined a crowded field of candidates seeking to become Galesburg's next mayor. Hall is no stranger to city government, first being appointed to fill an open seat by former mayor Fred Kimble and then winning two terms on the city council before stepping down in 2001. She joins incumbent Gary Smith, Sal Garza, Karen Lafferty and Nate Rockhold in what has become a very crowded field.
While not a Galesburg native, Hall moved here in 1972 and adopted Galesburg as her "new" hometown. "I moved here from the suburbs of Chicago. Galesburg has so much to offer that I have not once regretted my decision to make it my home." Her husband graduated from Knox that same year and has operated a "very small" painting business locally ever since. "We know the difficulties that face the small businesses of the community. We also believe that the trials the city has endured are reversible."
Not surprisingly economic development is at the top of Hall's political agenda. "Economic development is of the utmost importance. GREDA has not been effective in bringing economic growth to the city. The city and county need to work more directly together for economic development." She saw how important manufacturing was to Galesburg and recognizes that the era of the old-style large manufacturing employer base is over. "We must find a new direction to grow into the future."
"We need to assist our existing businesses." Like many Hall has grown tired of the unfulfilled promises offered and time and again by GREDA and doesn't understand why this group does not meaningfully broaden the scope of their endeavor. For example, she feels the huge effort and expense devoted to China is misplaced and cannot understand why so little effort has been devoted toward developing local businesses to focus on alternative energy. Hall also questions the reliance on costly incentives as a means of luring businesses to Galesburg.
"Tax dollars are precious and incentives should be used more for the reuse of existing buildings and grow existing local businesses. Many businesses have made a commitment to Galesburg without TIF dollars and other gimmes and the time has come to reward this loyalty and see that these businesses are aided in their efforts to grow and expand."
She wants to see downtown development but urges caution that we not simply throw money away for little real benefit as has occurred in past downtown projects. Hall also believes that Galesburg has much to offer and laments the flight of population, particularly young educated people, from town. In the case of her own family she raised three children in Galesburg only to see her two oldest forced to leave town to find gainful employment. "This is a problem that I want to see eliminated."
Hall believes that the Galesburg city council can accomplish much with new leadership and a shared commitment to addressing local problems and positioning the community for the future. She also has a history of tackling controversial issues head-on. As an alderwoman Hall supported the very contentious burning ban and stood up with a minority of the city council against the ill-fated TIF zone expansion that went to the Regency Hotel.
Hall's past experience on the city council provides her with an understanding of how city government works and what the role of the mayor and city council should be under the council-manager form of government. The present city council has continued a long-standing role reversal where they behave as if expecting direction from the city manager rather than the other way around. Hall says she will restore the leadership role to the mayor and city council and insist upon greater accountability by the city manager to the city council.