By MATT HOPF
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
Republican challenger Kyle Moore continued to accuse two-term Mayor John Spring of not having a long-term vision for the city during a Wednesday debate at O’Griff’s in downtown Quincy, while the incumbent touted his experience.
Kyle Moore, a 3rd Ward alderman, said the city could use long-term planning to develop an infrastructure plan that would give residents an opportunity to provide input on where the city should focus resources.
“We have to make sure we have a plan that doesn’t kick the can down the road,” he said. “That is why one of my proposals ... is a five-year comprehensive plan introduced in my first year in office.”
Spring said more than $27 million in infrastructure improvements have been made since he became mayor in 2005. He said he instituted a neighborhood enhancement program to put $1 million of improvements into city wards over a seven-year period.
“The idea is that if we can improve our neighborhoods, that improves the quality of our life in our community,” he said.
Spring, 64, served as executive director of the Quincy Notre Dame Foundation for 29 years before becoming mayor. He said he has more experience than Moore.
“I have an extensive background in public service,” he said. “More importantly, I have world experiences.”
Moore, 32, is in his first term as alderman and is the co-owner of Moore’s Floors. He said his age shouldn’t be factor.
“When an elected official doesn’t have a plan for the next four years, he or she becomes dictated by the crisis of the day,” he said.
Both were asked how what options they would pursue if the city had to replace its water treatment plant, in light of the earthy taste and smell that residents dealt with last year.
Spring said it would cost about $70 million to build a new facility, requiring the city to pursue both grants and loans.
“Yes, it’s an older facility, but we always receive the highest marks at the facility,” Spring said.
Moore agreed that the city would have to find grants to help pay for a new facility, as well as make room in the budget.
“It’s important to have those strategic talks and ask every department head, ‘What do you see going on in the next five years that you’re going to need?’ ” Moore said. “And we may not be able to give everything in that budget, but we can certainly try our best.”
Moore also continued his assault on Spring for pushing for the development of hydropower facilities, which has cost the city $5.5 million. Moore said he voted against renewing preliminary permits at Lock and Dam 24 in Clarksville, Mo., and Lock and Dam 25 in Winfield, Mo., because it is not the best use of the city’s time.
The City Council overwhelmingly supported the hydropower project, both before and after Moore was elected in 2009.
“That’s $5.5 million that we could have repaved your streets, done your sewer, done your sidewalk, and when I went to my town halls, which over 100 people attended, they raised their hands and said, ‘Enough is enough,’ ” Moore said.
Spring hopes to use the permits to work with a Canadian company to recoup some of the money after the city failed to obtain a license for Lock and Dam 21 in Quincy. He believes the project would have benefited the community, as both Illinois and Missouri have renewable energy goals for the future.
Spring was asked who he would appoint as director of administrative services if elected. He said he would leave Gary Sparks in the position. However, Sparks declined to comment on continuing to serve in that capacity when contacted after the debate.
Moore said he has discussed the position with people in the private sector, but he believed it wasn’t appropriate to release their names.
The debate was sponsored by YP Quincy, a group of young professionals seeking to enhance the quality of life in Quincy. When asked about attracting young people to Quincy, Spring said the city has to offer workplace opportunities as well as social activities.
“At the end of the day, you have to be comfortable here to raise a family — to feel safe in this community,” he said.
Moore said careers must be available for recent graduates to stay in the community.
“Whatever we want to become, everyone in this room knows we have the people and the resources to make it happen,” he said. “But we need to find out how we are going to get there and make sure we have the infrastructure in place to recruit those employers.”