The video camera, they explained, was to protect the candidate from possible defamation of character, and the contract, which remained unsigned, would have barred the paper from photographing the candidate or mentioning his race — even though Waters says he plans to build a campaign Web site and post videos on the Internet. His naiveté aside, elections may need people such as Waters to raise issues that major-party candidates won’t touch. For Waters, these issues include addressing the city’s homelessness problem, introducing nighttime bus service to Springfield, and alleviating racial tensions — things that, although not directly under the mayor’s control, aren’t completely outside that person’s purview, either. Born in East St. Louis, the 30-year-old Waters spent three years in the U.S. Marine Corps before moving first to San Diego and then, in 2001, to Springfield. He currently owns a clothing store on Springfield’s southeast side. “City government really needs some help and really needs a person in office to take care of the needs of the people,” he says of his decision to seek the mayor’s seat. Because he’s not affiliated with any political party, Water says, he doesn’t have to answer to or try to please anyone but the citizens of Springfield. “I’m neither a Republican or a Democrat. I’m an independent, and, as an independent, I feel I can really take care of the needs of the people,” he says. (Although city government is nonpartisan, Tim Davlin, the incumbent, is a Democrat and his main challenger, Ward 10 Ald. Bruce Strom, a Republican. The county election commission has also qualified a second write-in mayoral candidate, Mario Ingoglia.)
Waters says that he’s putting the needs of one particular group of people, the homeless, front and center in his campaign. “There shouldn’t be not [sic] one person outside. We all pay our CWLP bill, and just to pay that bill alone we pass by and see people sleeping right outside the mayor’s office, and I feel that’s wrong and heartless,” Waters says.
He continues: “We’re always going to have the issue come about because anyone could be displaced from their home due to fire, floods, storms, etc. If anyone really does want to sleep outside and feels that outside is their home, I really feel they really need some mental counseling.”
As far as how he would pay for such an undertaking, Waters talks about the resources the city has to fix the problem but admits that he hasn’t looked at Davlin’s proposed budget to see where the necessary funding might come from. Waters also says that he’s not for raising taxes but that “sometimes situations arise.”
Waters accuses Davlin of backroom dealings to reach an agreement with the Sierra Club to reduce pollution output from the city’s proposed power generator. He criticizes Strom for advocating for government transparency in his campaign for mayor but participating in a recent budget discussion with three other Republican aldermen that, Democrats claimed, violated the state open-meetings law. (Sangamon County State’s Attorney John Schmidt, a Republican, has declined to prosecute the four.) Asked about recent discussions of the Iraq War by members of the City Council, Waters says it’s not the city’s business but that everyone knows someone who’s fighting in Iraq based on reasons, he says, that “are not true or accurate. “It’s our right, it’s our responsibility, to be the voice of the troops that are overseas right now,” he says. “Sometimes when you’re in combat you’re on a need-to-know basis and you have to stay focused because you’re in a combat zone. You really don’t have the ability to protest and see what’s really going on. “So it’s the citizens’ responsibility to make sure the troops are being taken care of in all ways. If they’re in situation where they don’t need to be, it’s our responsibility to go through the corrective means to make sure they come home.”
The city’s general primary is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 27.
Contact R.L. Nave at email@example.com