QUINCY — Promising to be an advocate for the working men and women of Quincy, Brandon Koch, 32, filed paperwork with the Illinois Board of Elections on Monday to become a candidate for the 2021 municipal elections.
"There are things that God has put on my heart for the past two or three years. So I am taking a 100% faith-filled risk in God that this is what he wants me to do," said Koch, a Republican, who hopes to unseat incumbent Mayor Kyle Moore, who has served for two terms.
Moore has yet to announce his possible re-election bid, saying Thursday that he is instead focused on leading the city's COVID-19 response.
Koch formally announced his candidacy on Facebook. "I didn't expect to receive half of the support that I have already received," he said, adding that he believes the response his candidacy has generated is a testament that the "community is ready for a change."
Koch said, "For a working citizen like myself who has not worked in city government, it is going to take me being early in announcing my candidacy to even have a chance of being elected. If I waited until the last minute, then I would likely not have a chance."
Candidates will begin submitting nominating petitions later this year for the 2021 municipal election.
If elected, Koch said he would move to privatize the city's garbage and recycling programs, which he said would save the city as much as $2 million per year.
He would also redirect the city's efforts to develop portions of the riverfront toward the encouraging economic development in the District.
"I like the idea of focusing on Washington Park. I can just imagine how all of those empty storefronts could all be businesses, how we could have more upgraded apartments in these buildings," Koch said during an interview with The Herald-Whig in the park. Bringing businesses to the vacant storefronts would boost city sales tax revenues, which Koch said could be used to make improvements to infrastructure and elsewhere.
He also said he supported the city's 1% food and beverage tax. Revenue from that tax will be used to fund initiatives in the 45x30 Program, which is aimed at growing the city's population by 5,000 people ahead of the 2030 census.
"As taxpayers we don't always like to hear tax, tax and tax. The reality is that sometimes the city needs to create additional revenue and that if we want to make the city better, than we need to be willing to pay for it," Koch said.
He said he is undecided about the push to reduce the size of the City Council and to make municipal elections nonpartisan for the council, mayor and other city elected leaders.
The former WGEM Sports radio producer said he also is neutral on the issue of a citywide mask mandate during the pandemic.
"I don't believe there have been enough studies on that issue," said Koch, who was a 2005 graduate of Quincy High School and now works at Craig Industries, which makes cooling and refrigeration products.
Koch, who is the son of the late Jimmy Allen Koch and Laura Dietrich, is married to his high school sweetheart, Ashley. The couple have been married for 13 years and have two children Brayden, 10, and Branson, 5.
Koch, a veteran of the Army National Guard who was deployed to Kuwait in 2008, pledged on Thursday that by the time his petition is circulated he will be issuing additional specific policy positions for voters to review.
In the meantime, Koch said voters can interact with him on his personal Facebook page.
"I feel that by letting people add me on my personal page, then they get to see me, the real me, and they can see exactly who they would be getting as mayor. They would be seeing that I am not trying to put on a stunt," Koch said.
He added, "I don't see myself as a politician. I just look at myself as a working citizen, who is just like every other citizen who pays taxes and who ultimately wants better for the citizens of Quincy."
Koch, who moved to Quincy as a child in the late 1990s, remembers the first time his family drove through the city.
"I vividly remember how clean the city looked, the yards were freshly cut, and how the city was just well-organized and ran," Koch said. "I remember the feelings of hope that we, as a family, felt when we came to Quincy. I am looking to restore that sense of hope to the people of Quincy and that others would be moving here for better lives for their families."