|In a relaxed town hall setting two mayoral candidates answered the community's questions about job creation, the youth, and even revitalization of the south side.
The NAACP hosted another Mayor forum Thursday; however, this time around not all three candidates were available. Businessman and WGIL owner John Pritchard had a business conflict.
A hot button topic was, as always, jobs and job creation.
Incumbent Sal Garza explained that when he first took office as Mayor four years ago he changed the way economic development was handled and has been successful in doing so.
"11-hundred jobs were either retained -- because that was our priority. We have hemorrhaged so many opportunities with the closure of these factories," Garza said. "We needed to hold on to what we have. And we did that at Gates. We did that at United Facilities. We brought new companies like Intellihot. We helped to partner with the downtown business groups where we re-developed Azer Medical Supply."
Former Alderwoman Margaret Hall responded to the Mayor by saying he was making a bigger deal out of his successes than he should, and the bottom line is Galesburg is still no better off than four years ago.
"Mr. Mayor, going to [Archer Daniels Midland when they closed a grain elevator] was something that you should be doing as part of your job as Mayor," Hall said. "It has nothing to do with economic development. That's what you do to keep jobs here. Yes, you have had some successes, but we have a 10.2% unemployment now, which is higher, and you're still decreasing the population. So, you're still bleeding out jobs."
Hall continued to tell the Mayor he promotes jobs and literacy but wanted to know what he did as a member of the community to try and keep the Waldenbooks store from going out of business in Sandburg Mall.
Garza explained he was not Mayor during that time, and it was a corporate decision; and there was nothing the city could do.