Mayoral candidate Sean Johnson recently visited with me to express his vision for the City of Geneseo and the challenges it will be facing in the next few years.
Alderman Johnson moved to Geneseo as a child with his parents. Sean attended Geneseo Schools, and St. Ambrose University where he obtained his Bachelor's Degree. He served the Geneseo Police Department, retiring after 20 years, with the rank of Detective. He is currently employed as an operations manager at Edwards Redi-Mix, in its Illinois operations. He makes his home in the Third Ward with his wife, Jolene, and daughters Tenley and Jillian, who currently attend Geneseo High School.
In the next term, things that concern Johnson are the ongoing challenges of finding new revenue
sources to help fund the ongoing projects within the city. Another area that needs to be  ddressed is the need for long term planning for the City. Plans with goals for the future in 6 months, 1 year, 2 years, and five years should be created. He looks forward to working with City Administrator JoAnn Hollenkamp, as well as other individuals to create just such a schedule, addressing needs for infrastructure renewal and expansion, revenue projection, and attracting new businesses to Geneseo. He would like to see in the future, a Local Economic Development Board consisting of several council members with other interested individuals. This Board would work with the Henry County Economic Development to market Geneseo. The attraction of new opportunities is a large task, better handled by a group, with networking and expanding on the talents of the group.
Unique perspectives gleaned from 20 years as a police officer in town, interacting with all people of all socio-economic levels have taught him that you need to be a good listener, and better communicator. “I learned an awful lot from people who were in opposition with me. That's where the best decisions lie, is in listening to all parts of the issue”
Regarding the Referendum on the ballot changing the Council terms to 4 year, Johnson is in favor of the change. A 4 year term would give the Council better cohesion, as there would be less time spent bringing new members up to speed, and more focus on the long term agenda. Johnson says the 4 year terms for elected officials would also help facilitate the goal of a comprehensive strategic plan for the city. Johnson agrees with Alderman Bob Wachtel that until now, Geneseo City Council has been too reactionary, dealing with issues as they came up as opposed to being more pro-active and working things into a comprehensive plan. “We've been too busy plugging holes, when we should be building dikes.” stated Johnson. When asked how he would respond to those that feel the longer terms for elected officials may effect accountability to voters Johnson said “to me being such a small community voter accountability should really be an everyday type of thing”. “We should be accountable to the public daily as we interact with the voters in the gas stations or grocery stores” Johnson said. “That’s where elected officials should not only be learning how the voters feel about said topic, that’s where us elected officials can also engage and help inform the voters about an issue they are dealing with”. “I think with revenue being as tight as it is right now, the time is more important than ever that the council and elected officials have better communications and transparency with the citizens about the challenges that lie ahead”.
Things that impress Sean about the citizens of his hometown is when even if the news is not good, they are receptive to sensible solutions to problems. He admires the passion and sense of community intrinsic in Geneseo. “It's amazing how tightly knit everyone is about Geneseo!”