QUINCY -- Mayor Kyle Moore and challenger Jeff VanCamp offered alternative views of the how city government is working as they met Tuesday night for their first candidate forum leading up to the April 4 election.
Moore said the city's reserves have almost tripled, investments in streets and sidewalks have doubled, and there has been strong job growth and construction of new manufacturing facilities during his four years as mayor.
"We're investing more in public safety than when I took office," Moore said.
VanCamp, a 6th Ward alderman, said crime in the city has increased. Police manpower was cut in a previous budget, and a fire station was closed for a year. VanCamp said those choices were made by Moore based on concerns about possible cuts in state funding that didn't materialize until the next year.
"People don't feel as safe as they did a couple of years ago," VanCamp said.
Quincy Regional Crime Stoppers and the Quincy Citizens Police Academy Alumni Association hosted the forum at the Quincy Mall, and most questions revolved around police and fire issues.
Moore said he's shown support for emergency responders but difficult decisions led to some temporary cuts that have been restored after long-term budget adjustments were made.
"These decisions are not made in a vacuum. It's not always easy to get agreement from 14 diverse council members," Moore said.
VanCamp said Moore decided to make emergency services cuts before the state withheld funds.
"There were threatened budget cuts, but you don't pull the trigger and cut police and fire based on threats," he said. "The prudent course of action is to work up your doomsday budget, but don't make the cuts until the state cuts funding."
VanCamp said there also needs to be more communication between the mayor and city workers. He thinks the city's Central Services trucks are substandard because vehicles were purchased without asking for input from the "boots on the ground."
Moore said the communication is there. He said he has talked many times in his office and on his cellphone with department heads and city workers. There also are frequent birthday lunches with the mayor to make sure he hears from city employees.
Work on a new long-range plan for putting fire stations in the right places also is underway, Moore said. He noted that the newest fire station in town was built in the 1970s. A mutual aid agreement also has been put in place between the Quincy Fire Department and the Tri-Township Fire Department to improve response times, especially on the east side of Quincy.
Pension obligations for fire and police drew varied responses. Moore said the city has contributed $1.5 million more than the state requires to the pension funds in recent years. He also pushed for millions of dollars going toward pensions and debt.
VanCamp pledged to put together a working group with stakeholders and outside financial experts to come up with options for paying pension obligations.
Both candidates pledged not to conduct negative campaigns and said they like and respect each other.
In his closing statement, VanCamp said things are not going better than they were four years ago because of "a lack of communication, a lack of direction and a lack of leadership."
Moore said statistics show that the last four years have been the safest in Quincy since 2001. He said city services have improved, he has adopted innovative solutions and been the "voice for taxpayers."
• Mayor Kyle Moore, a 36-year-old Republican, was elected mayor in 2013. Moore served one term as alderman in the city's 3rd Ward from 2009 to 2013. He is co-owner of Moore's Floors.
Moore served as a big brother for Big Brothers Big Sisters for 11 years and was on the group's West-Central Illinois Board, serving as president. He was on the United Way Resource Allocation Committee, and is a member of the Quincy Exchange Club and Quincy Young Professionals.
• Alderman Jeff VanCamp, 56, is director of development at Chaddock School. A 1979 graduate of Quincy Notre Dame High School and a 1984 graduate of Quincy University, he was elected to the Quincy Park Board in 2011, where he became vice president and Finance Committee chairman. He also is past president of the Quincy Public Library Board and served with Quincy Regional Crime Stoppers.
VanCamp was elected 6th Ward alderman as an independent in 2015, defeating one-term Republican incumbent Jim Musolino.