Mayor issues statement on stay-at-home violations

Walker

Since announcing his candidacy for mayor, David Goins has misrepresented Alton’s current and future status as a “home rule” unit of government, according to a release from Mayor Brant Walker.

Goins has made the following statements about Alton’s “home rule” status:

Alton’s population has declined to approximately 26,500 residents and if it drops below 25,000, the city will lose its home rule status.¹

The city’s population has declined to about 26,500 people, he said, endangering its home rule status, which requires a city to maintain over 25,000 residents to preserve its constitutional authority to self-govern in matters such as sales taxes and solving local issues.²

In fact, Alton’s population has declined to approximately 26,500 residents and on the verge of losing its home rule status and constitutional authority to self-govern and solving local issues.³

“Either Mr. Goins is woefully misinformed about Illinois law as it pertains to home rule status, or he is willfully misrepresenting the facts for political purposes,” Walker said. “Illinois law is quite clear, even to a non-attorney, that a municipality dropping below 25,000 in population would not automatically lose its home rule status.”

Section 6 of Article VII of the Illinois Constitution defines a “home rule” unit of government as “A county which has a chief executive officer elected by the electors of the county and any municipality which has a population of more than 25,000 are home rule units. Other municipalities may elect by referendum to become home rule units. Except as limited by this section, a home rule unit may exercise any power and perform any function pertaining to its government and affairs including, but not limited to, the power to regulate for the protection of the public health, safety, morals and welfare; to license; to tax; and to incur debt.”

Further, Article 5, Section 1-1-9 of Chapter 65 of the Illinois Compiled Statutes states, “If a municipality which is a home rule unit under Section 6 of Article VII of the Constitution by reason of having a population of more than 25,000 suffers a loss in population so that its population determined as provided in Section 1-7-2 is 25,000 or less, such municipality shall continue to have the powers of a home rule unit until it elects by referendum not to be a home rule unit.”

“In order for the city of Alton to lose its home rule status, voters would have to cede that authority via referendum, and it would be illogical for any mayor or candidate to support such a preposterous proposition,” Walker said.

“Between 1960 and 2013, Alton’s population decreased by approximately 35.8 percent,” Walker said. “The fact is, my administration implemented policies and programs that have stabilized our population and positioned Alton for economic and population growth, some of which was occurring prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“Part of Alton’s population decline was due to the loss of heavy industry in the latter portion of the 20th century, but it was also due to city government’s failure to adequately invest in our parks and infrastructure,” Walker said. “During my administration, we have reversed that trend by making more than $6 million in grant-funded improvements to our parks and investing nearly $4 million dollars in grant-funded improvements to our infrastructure to make Alton more attractive to residents and businesses.”

“Also contributing to Alton’s previous population decline was an increase in substandard rental property that adversely impacted property values,” Walker said. “My administration has also reversed that trend, implementing a landlord licensing program to hold problem landlords accountable and strengthening our Homeownership Program that has assisted 189 families achieve the dream of homeownership while expending over $560K in down payment and closing cost assistance.”

“Further, by expanding an innovative business retention program, implementing a retail recruitment strategy, and utilizing local incentives to stimulate private investment, my administration has created a robust business climate attractive to residents and businesses alike,” Walker said. “As a result, Alton has experienced more than $116 million in private capital investment, issued more than 2,000 individual business licenses, and prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Alton’s unemployment rate had hit its lowest level in decades.”

“Ultimately, the results of my administration’s pro-growth policies speak for themselves, and Alton has been nationally recognized as a great place to live, work, and raise a family,” Walker said. “The Travel Channel named Alton as one of the top 50 ‘Charming Small Towns in America,’ Forbes Magazine named Alton as the ‘best places to retire in Illinois,’ and the AARP named Alton as one of the ‘Top 10 Places to Live’ in Illinois for seniors. The city of Alton also won season three of Deluxe’s “Small Business Revolution.”

“We should have robust debate about the issues facing our city, including how to increase our population, but those debates must be had by well-informed individuals using facts, not distorted political hyperbole,” Walker said. “The residents of Alton deserve nothing less.”

Sources:

1“Teamsters endorse Goins for Alton Mayor,” AdvantageNews.com, 02/10/20

2“Goins running for Alton mayor’s post,” The Telegraph, 12/07/20

3“David Goins Details Thoughts On Campaign For Alton Mayor Position,” Riverbender.com, 02/09/21

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