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Wednesday, March 21, 2007 08:34 am

Davlin vs. Strom

A weekly look at where Springfield’s two leading mayoral candidates stand — or don’t stand — on the issues

Mayor Tim Davlin
Untitled Document On homelessness . . . Social-service agencies recently conducted a study of Springfield’s homeless community in which organizations counted 303 homeless individuals around the city, a 20 percent drop over last year’s total. The survey also found a 12.8 percent increase in the number of the city’s “chronically homeless.” Unlike the 2003 mayoral campaign, the subjects of homelessness and panhandling have been thrust to the center of several aldermanic contests — as well as the race for Springfield mayor.
Tim Davlin •  Army of four — In 2006 Davlin joined three aldermen in voting to allow the Salvation Army to move forward with the construction of a new administrative headquarters, community center, and homeless shelter on J. David Jones Parkway. Previously the mayor put forth a compromise in which the Salvation Army would split its operations between the proposed site and its current facility, but the organization rejected the plan. Deon Oliver, then-head of the Army in Springfield, expressed gratitude for Davlin’s gesture but added that the mayor could have done more sooner.
•  Having no money OK; asking for money not OK — On numerous occasions Davlin has said that he has no plans to prohibit homeless people from sleeping outside Lincoln Library, saying that it’s not against the law to be homeless. During the most recent debate between the two leading contenders, held this week, Davlin did express support for an ordinance, currently tabled in the council’s finance committee, to slap daytime panhandlers on the wrist: “It’s not about collecting fines; it’s just a deterrent.”

Bruce Strom •  Compassionate conservative — Strom voted in January 2006 with six of his City Council colleagues to oppose the Salvation Army’s request to build its center across the street from Oak Ridge Cemetery. Nonetheless, shortly afterward, the Salvation Army’s Oliver praised Strom for his efforts in helping the organization find a permanent home. Strom briefly explored the feasibility of moving the Salvation Army into the former city health-department building but relented when neighborhood groups and Ward 2 Ald. Frank McNeil expressed opposition to the idea. Strom also voted against a measure proposed this fall to prohibit “camping” at the library. Goal-oriented — Strom didn’t indicate this week whether he supports the panhandling restriction but during his opening statement did list it among the problems facing the city. Whereas Davlin touted the efforts of his homelessness task force in this year’s lower homeless count, Strom suggested that the reduction was also the result of the good work of Springfield’s social-service agencies. If he were mayor, Strom says, he would be much more goal-oriented in tackling the homeless situation than Davlin, whose task force was assembled in 2003, has been.
Citizens decide elections. For this reason, from now until Election Day, we will let candidates explain in their own words where they stand on issues that matter to you. Let us know your issues. Contact R.L. Nave at rnave@illinoistimes.com.
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