In the last of three Midwest Partners’ meet the candidate events, the lone Princeton mayoral candidate, Ray Mabry, took the opportunity to speaker to voters about his plans moving forward and the improvements he would like to see around Princeton.
The event, hosted by Rick Brooks, place place over an hour and a half on Thursday, March 23 at the Princeton Public Library.
Mabry has been a Princeton native since 1959, graduated from Princeton High School in 1977, attended IVCC, served in the Army Reserves and has also worked for decades in the realty industry.
Mabry previously served on the Princeton City Council for eight years and has also participated in a variety of volunteer events and services.
During his opening to the event, Mabry said that his first three focusses as mayor would be public safety, economic development and promote good governance.
“I think that we need to cooperate with the fellow taxing bodies,” Mabry said. “I think sometimes there’s been a disconnect with how we get along with the county board. I don’t need to tell the county how to run their lives because I think as a mayor I’ll have enough going on in our community of 7,900. But we need to have good working relationship with that county board.”
Mabry added that he would like the city to continue to develop these good working relationships with the Princeton township, Princeton Public Library, Princeton Park District, school boards and even the Soil and Water Conservation District.
“We want to work with our governing bodies and we want to work together as a council,” Mabry said. “I want to come into this with an open mind and be able to work with the four council members that I will be cooperating with in a positive manner.”
In order to work effectively with the council, Mabry plans to implement a weekly report from the city manager that highlights important items that may or may not need to be addressed during that week or during the next city council meeting.
In preparation for the upcoming April 4 consolidated election, Mabry said that he visited other local city council meetings including Peru, La Salle, Geneseo and Spring Valley to observed any ideas that he feels may be useful as mayor of Princeton.
Mabry added that he is strong proponent of not reinventing the wheel; saying that if he sees good ideas during his travels or from others around him he is willing to take good ideas and adjust them to fit the city of Princeton.
He provided articles to those in attendance about other smaller cities in Illinois and in surrounding states that have used what was at their disposal in order to improve the overall quality of life for their citizens.
One idea Mabry specifically wanted to help bring to Princeton was one from the city manager of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The manager there implemented a one bag challenge where they challenge every resident to pick up a garbage bag full of trash from around the city a year.
Mabry took this idea and put together kits that he handed out to those in attendance. The kits included a garbage bag, collection sticker and a pair of gloves form Ace Hardware to encourage residents of Princeton to take pride in the town they call home.
Mabry went on to answer questions from Brooks and the audience including those about shopping local and keeping money in Princeton, the town’s current job and housing status and also what can be done to bring smaller businesses to town.
“In four years time I would hope that I could say to you that we have a community that is working better together with the other taxing bodies,” Mabry said. “I think that if we can continue the quality of life and maybe improve it, I think we are all heading in the right direction. It’s just a matter of improving the quality of life. It’s the little things from picking up trash but also the big things of making sure we are fiscally responsible with how we spend our money.”