CARBONDALE, IL (KFVS) - As one of the bigger towns in the Heartland, Carbondale, Illinois definitely has some eyes looking on it’s mayoral race between incumbent Mayor Mike Henry and young challenger, Nathan Colombo on April 2.
Heartland News reporters spoke to these men about what they want to do for the city if elected.
It seems that Colombo wants to try to revitalize the community with big dramatic changes, whereas Mayor Henry sticks to his proven record and wants to continue the progress he’s made over the last 4 years.
We spoke to them about some of the cities bigger challenges, first with the number of downtown businesses up for sale like Fat Patties, Pag’s, and Hangar 9.
Both these men see these places as spots where new business can take over.
“We watch for businesses all the time," Mayor Henry said. “In just 2018, we had - I believe - 18 businesses in Carbondale who are either new to us or did substantial renovations to their businesses.”
“We’re given an opportunity now to give this town completely new direction,” Colombo said. "That in times of transition like we’re in now, people see an opportunity to fill a void of activity with their own vision.”
An area that these men don’t agree on that you have to ask someone running for mayor of Carbondale is how the relationship between the city and southern Illinois University.
Colombo thinks it’s time to think of the two more separately, whereas Henry want’s to continue to work side by side with the school to make both stronger.
“I think we have to find ways to reinvent Carbondale outside the University while still utilizing the resources and the notoriety that the university provides to the town,” Colombo said.
“With declining enrollment we have to all be on the same page with everyone going in the same direction to make the city look better and brand us as a university community and bring more students back to Carbondale.”
Both these men have long histories in the city. Henry said he started his family and business here after attending SIU. Colombo is born and raised here, with hopes of continuing that legacy. Both think they are the right man for the job.
“I think I’ve done well but I think we have done well,” Henry said. And all politicians say we but when I’m saying we, I’m saying our city council. We have a great city council and been very productive in what we’re doing.”
“As mayor, you’re granted the opportunity to be the figurehead of the city,” Colombo said. "So it’s going out and speaking to these things, it’s being engaged in this activity, it’s providing a baseline of what can be and simply speaking it into existence and provided the policy to back those things up.”