CARBONDALE — Two incumbents retained their seats on Carbondale’s city council — and ceded one seat to the throng of newcomers.
Carolin Harvey, Jeff Doherty and Ginger Rye Sanders will have several key issues to tackle with their terms in office, namely helping the struggling local economy recover from a year under COVID-19 restrictions as well as the ongoing discussions between the city and the Carbondale Park District regarding a potential merger or sharing of responsibilities will be at the top of that list.
Rye Sanders took 14.87% of the vote — there were a total of 3,948 votes cast. Rye Sanders is known to many in Carbondale, and certainly those currently serving on the council, as a community organizer who founded and leads the Women for Change group.
With her time in office, Rye Sanders previously said she will strive to build new strategies for business development. She also said a goal will be to create community police reform by embracing new relationships with mental health professionals.
The Southern reached Rye Sanders by phone Tuesday night and she said the phone was ringing nonstop from friends and family and soon-to-be colleagues. She said councilmembers and even Mayor Mike Henry phoned to congratulate her.
Harvey, who has served eight years on Carbondale’s council, took 21.99% of the vote. She has said with another term, she would like to further explore the city absorbing some or all of the Carbondale Park District’s operations. This is something that has been in discussion for the better part of two years. In 2019, about 75% of voters said the city should explore merging operations with the taxing body.
Speaking with The Southern Tuesday after her win, Harvey thanked voters for their trust in her again. She said she wants to develop a program that would convert vacant rental properties into owner-occupied homes for the homeless and lower-to-medium income households.
Doherty, previously Carbondale’s city manager for 16 years, took 17.43% of the vote. He has lived in Carbondale more than 50 years and has served one term on the council.
In an email to The Southern, Doherty previously said with a second term, he hopes to continue to reduce the city’s property taxes by encouraging businesses to come to town. This would increase the tax base for the city and allow it to reduce property taxes. He said he also wants to encourage homeownership especially in the city’s core.
Incumbent Jessica Bradshaw, Melvin “Pepper” Holder, Joshua Dalton Liechty, Nick Smaligo, Nathan Colombo and Taliq Montgomery also ran in Tuesday’s race.
In 2019, Colombo ran a close but unsuccessful mayoral campaign against Mayor Mike Henry. Colombo is an active community member, working with local institutions such as The Varsity Center for the Arts and is a regular attendee at council meetings.
Holder said fresh vision is needed to push the city forward. He pointed to words of hope spoken by current and former council members without a lot of noticeable change.
Smaligo is known by many throughout Carbondale as one of the forces behind the political action and community organizing group The Carbondale Spring. Starting in 2019, The Carbondale Spring, a loose collective of like-minded organizers, pushed for food autonomy in the city, criminal justice reform and other social justice issues.
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