Mayor Jerry Bolin

Alderman Steve Johnson

By Bob Balgemann
REPORTER
The village’s 2017 mayoral election is coming up Tuesday (April 4), with each of the two candidates saying why he should be chosen by voters.
Incumbent Mayor/Village President Jerry D. Bolin, who is seeking a second four-year term, has drawn opposition from sitting Trustee Steve Johnson.
Mayor Bolin won his first term in 2013, after serving for four years as the District 1 representative on the village board.
He said he is running on his track record, which shows four years of progress in continuing improvements to Machesney Park’s infrastructure, along with business growth, retention and expansion, as well as enhancing safety and quality of life.
“I will keep our village moving forward with continual improvements,” he said.
The mayor has launched several initiatives in the latter part of his fourth year in office. They are:
* A campaign to abate housing blight in various areas of the village. The village board on Nov. 7, 2016, agreed to commit $300,000 in video gaming proceeds over the next three years to such improvements.
Village Administrator Tim Savage called that action “a first and early step” in the process. As proposed, the village would acquire substandard houses and them rehabilitated by community groups, such as Habitat for Humanity. Ultimately, the improved residences would be occupied by new owners.
* Acquiring cutting edge equipment for sheriff’s deputies who provide law enforcement services to the village through annual contracts.
The board took a step in that direction by voting unanimously March 20 to spend $41,000 on the pur-chase of an automated license plate reader system.
In announcing this effort Feb. 7, Mayor Bolin said it would allow deputies “to identify thousands of vehi-cles per hour and have access to a data base with tens of thousands of wanted vehicles.” He called the system a huge benefit for deputies and “will tell criminals to stay out of Machesney Park.”
* Development of an assisted living center, on the north side of the Machesney Park Town Center prop-erty, has been a goal of the village for several years. Earlier this month such a plan was announced for a 96-unit facility to be built on six acres on the north side of the center.
In addition to providing 40 jobs, the mayor said the project was “a milestone in the town center turnaround that is a huge plus for the whole village.”
* Finally, several years after buying the vacant Penney’s Outlet building, the village has announced that Maximum Performance Fitness Training Inc. will be occupying 12,000 square feet of that structure at 8702 N. Second St.
A lease was recommended for approval by the administration and finance committee at its March 20 meeting, and now will be considered by the village board Monday night, April 3.
Owner Mike Zahniser has other locations in Loves Park, Roscoe and Belvidere.
“Maximum Performance is a great contributor to the positive momentum we are seeing at the Town Cen-ter,” Mayor Bolin said.
Trustee Johnson
Trustee Johnson believes His 12 years as an elected Machesney Park official, and his job as a registered pharmacist, enable him to bring some unique qualities to the office of mayor.
He has a plan called Working PARTS that addresses such issues as safety, beautification and building both a stronger community and a more responsive government.
Safety
He said he would propose the village having its own K-9 unit through the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office, which provides law enforcement services to Machesney Park. Providing more deputies to increase more visibility throughout the village is another goal.
Here are some other elements in the Police and Residents Together Strong (PARTS) plan:
* Assign one deputy to each of the six village board districts and have them introduce themselves to resi-dents, via door-to-door interactions, in addition to driving through the neighborhoods and attending com-munity events.
* A Know An Officer program through which there would be a free monthly movie night at various schools, during the summer months.
That goal would be for each resident to know at least one deputy’s first name after one year of this pro-gram.
Beautification
As a follow-up to the beautification program Trustee Johnson started during the spring of 2016, the volun-teer committee would be increased. Work would focus on the bike path and entrances to the community.
In addition, through Planting and Residents Together Strong (PARTS), involvement by students in the bike path would be encouraged, and at the same time help beautify the village.
He is proposing a Plant a Seed Program, with cooperation among village schools and sheriff’s deputies. Third-graders would plant seeds and deputies would help them plant flowers at their schools, to promote good relations with the Machesney Park police force.
Community
Partners and Residents Together Strong (PARTS) promotes working together and sharing resources. Par-ticipants in this effort would include the North Suburban Library District, Harlem Township, Parks Chamber of Commerce, Harlem Community Center, Carlson Boys and Girls Club and others.
The goal would be to provide programs and events that enhance residents’ recreational activities and life-styles.
Government
Through Planning and Resources Together Strong (PARTS), the village staff would work more aggressively to entice R and R (retail and restaurants) to the community.
“I will be more open and approachable to residents and make sure your cares and concerns get handled in a timely manner,” candidate Johnson said.
Maintaining a village board that is willing to work together for the good of the village also is important, he said. “This will show developers that we will help make their businesses thrive,” he said.
By implementing those programs, he said the village would be poised to “put our best foot forward” to entice more developers to bring sit-down restaurants along routes 173 and 251, as well as hotels and more large retailers that will help maintain the current zero property tax base.