John "Mike" Henry, Mayor
State of the City Address - December 16, 2015
Audio Recordings of Council Meetings and State of the City Address
From the Mayor
When I’m asked “How do you like being Mayor?” or “How are you getting so much done?”, my answer always includes “We have a great City Council that works hard and understands the value of compromise. Our City Staff and employees are second to none. Everyone is working together to get things done – to move Carbondale forward. Our citizens are engaged in the process and know that they will be given a chance to be heard.”
Each Council member brings their own unique perspectives, insights and experiences to the Council table. We do have differences of opinion, but that is exactly how it should be. You may have noticed that many times our votes are not unanimous and that, too, is okay. Each of us understands that at times we must “agree to disagree” in order to forge solutions. A most interesting thing to note is that there are no grudges, no personal attacks showing up in social media or on blogs the next day. A significant improvement over what we were seeing just 2 years ago.
In the past 17 months this Council has: employed a new City Manager and Chief of Police; created and filled the positions of Director of Economic Development and Public Relations Officer; approved a Balanced Budget (with a modest surplus); adopted and began implementing the Downtown Master Plan; entered into contracts for new streetscape designs of Illinois Avenue and for a comprehensive Management Review of all city operations; contracted for the demolition of the old Horizon (Holiday) Inn; approved site plans and incentives for Hilton Home2 Suites, IHOP, Panda Express, and Casey’s; made strategic purchases of vacated properties within the city to further enhance redevelopment efforts and quality-of-life improvements; and facilitated the return of music and other entertainment to our streets. After much discussion and citizen input over 4 meetings, this Council had the Will, Foresight and Strength to seek additional revenues in order to properly fund these initiatives.
Along with this comes a spoken pledge: These new revenues will be deposited into a separate income account and we, as your City Council, will watch over them, making sure they are used only for their intended purpose. A year from now, our city will look and feel significantly different.
Before the start of SIU’s 2017 fall semester, Illinois Avenue should have few, if any, powerlines overhead, new sidewalks, new streetlights, plantings, mini parks and maybe even a fountain. Our bars and restaurants can now have dining areas on the sidewalks, and we intend to install benches, bike racks, and public art throughout the downtown. Many of these will be designed by SIU students. The old Horizon Inn will be nothing more than a memory- maybe even something new will be underway on that sight!
Remember to thank the folks who serve on your City Council. They have done, and will continue to do, a great job for you and Carbondale.
John “Mike” Henry
City of Carbondale