Andy Mihelich is the Change Needed In Joliet: Vote Andrew “Andy” Mihelich for Mayor of Joliet
(Joliet, Illinois) –After rejecting the notion of a tax increases, Mihelich took it one step further expressing frustration that the question should even be on the table saying, “I think it’s irresponsible that our city council has gotten us into a position where we look at a tax increase.”
“We cannot tax our way to fiscal solvency or prosperity,” said Mihelich. “That’s what my opponents currently serving on the council have tried to do and it has left us with a smaller tax base and bigger deficits. We have to chart a different course and that begins with a city government that lives within the means of the Joliet families who pay for it.”
Joliet residents are urged to vote Mihelich and send a clear message that Joliet cannot continue its tax-and-spend ways. In their recent editorial, the Joliet Herald Newspaper recently endorsed Warren Dorris for mayor, noting that he’s served for the last 26 years on the city council. During this time, he and his city council cohorts approved bad investments and irresponsible increases in pay for city workers. They lost more than $500 Million in gaming revenue. The average city worker in Joliet makes almost $90,000 a year in compensation. This is more on average than the city workers earn in San Francisco, California.
Additionally, members of the Joliet Herald editorial board who made the endorsement for Dorris DO NOT EVEN LIVE WITHIN THE CITY LIMITS OF JOLIET! They will be immune to the property tax increases Dorris and the council incumbents have proposed. The Herald’s endorsement is unethical. This alone represents another reason change is needed in Joliet.
Early on in the campaign Mihelich unveiled his “Jobs for Joliet” economic recovery plan. The key components of the Mihelich plan:
- Partnering with Joliet Junior College’s Small Business Development Center
- Creating a Joliet Economic Development Commission
- Job-training for Joliet residents
- Review of contracting to ensure the city is meeting its participation goals for minority-owned and woman-owned businesses
And while tough decisions will need to be made about the size and expense of city government in the short-term, Mihelich understands that economic growth is the long-term solution.
Mihelich has framed his campaign around a simple proposition: As mayor, he will ask a simple question when considering each and every policy proposal, “Will this policy help Joliet families to be successful?”
The first thing a family needs to be successful is a job.
The centerpiece of the Mihelich plan is for the city to aid in the development, launch and support for small businesses.
“Every community wants to bring in the big manufacturer or the big retailer, and I do as well,” said Mihelich. “But instead of seeking only home runs, we need to start hitting some singles and doubles. Small businesses are the engines of job growth in our economy and can be in Joliet.”
Mihelich noted that of the nearly 1.2 million businesses in Illinois, 88% of them are so-called “microenterprises” with less than five employees. (source: Association for Enterprise Opportunity)
Mihelich proposed that, in addition to the city’s Chamber of Commerce & Industry, the City of Joliet work more closely with the Illinois Small Business Development Center located at Joliet Junior College.
“We don’t need to reinvent the wheel, we just need to educate our residents about the services and support that is out there to create a culture of entrepreneurship in Joliet,” said Mihelich.· “The Small Business Development Center already works in conjunction with federal and state economic development agencies and retired executives to provide a wide range of services that help small businesses get off the ground and support them once their doors are open.”
Mihelich said that very few existing businesses much less prospective ones know about the services available. Mihelich proposed district-by-district seminars on everything from writing business plans to financing options available.· Mihelich also suggested creating an Entrepreneur’s Speakers Series for successful entrepreneurs to mentor those just starting out.
Mihelich said his plan wouldn’t cost the city money as it simply would coordinate resource providers and educate Joliet residents as to the resources available for small businesses and start-ups.
Mihelich also proposed creation of a Joliet Economic Development Commission where business, labor, and civic community leaders will be recruited to map out reforms they believe are needed to make Joliet a place that keeps existing businesses and attracts new ones that feature good paying jobs with benefits for Joliet families.
“It is important to gather the input of leaders in a variety of sector and fields of endeavor to make sure we don’t miss anything when it comes to the reforms needed to make Joliet a destination for business,” said Mihelich.
Mihelich said his first charge to the newly minted city-specific commission will be; (1) to ensure Joliet is getting a good return on its investment with the Will County Center for Economic Development; and (2) To aid in the transformation of downtown Joliet, including its street layout, to better embody a 21st century city.
Mihelich also believes it is important for the mayor to be an ambassador for the city. Mihelich will personally visit existing Joliet businesses to gain an understanding of the specific challenges they face and how the city can help.· He will also serve as the city’s lead recruiter for new businesses to make sure the interests of every neighborhood and every family is represented at the table as it pertains to new economic opportunities.
Mihelich will also make job-training a priority to ensure Joliet families have the skills they need to compete for new jobs in the city. Mihelich’s experience at Joliet Junior College will be key to developing the necessary partnerships to make available the core skills-training required for residents who need help preparing for success in our global, digital economy.
Mihelich emphasized the need to review the city’s minority contractor participation program to ensure participating goals are being met and exceeded.· The city has a 10% minority set aside.· “We need to begin by getting minority contractors certified to bid on contracts.· We also need to construct city contracts in such a way that minorities can competitively compete.”
Mihelich’s commitment to fair competition and equitable participation in city businesses earned him the Latino Business Association’s Community Advocate of the Year Award in 2008.
Putting his plan into action already, Mihelich organized a rally in Joliet on Sunday afternoon as a show of support for the Peoria-based manufacturer Caterpillar and to call on Governor Pat Quinn and the General Assembly to respond to the concerns raised by Caterpillar CEO Doug Oberhelman in his March 21 letter to the Governor.
“Illinois cannot afford to lose Caterpillar and Joliet cannot afford to lose Caterpillar,” said Mihelich, who has made job creation and business location the main thrust of his mayoral campaign.
“This is a wake-up call for the state and for our community. I want to show Caterpillar that at the local level we want to do everything we can to keep them here and that includes pressuring our legislators and elected officials in Springfield to pursue policies that keep Caterpillar in Illinois.”
Mihelich retired as Joliet Junior College’s Associate Vice President after 30 years of service.· For 20 years he directed all of the college’s economic development programs, including dislocated worker assistance, small business development and entrepreneurship training, worker retraining, and community development.
During his career at JJC, Mihelich also served on the Grundy Economic Development Council for twelve years. He chaired their Business Growth and Expansion Committee and served on the Executive Committee.· He received their Community Member of the Year Award in 2000.
At the recent mayoral debate at the University of Saint Francis in Joliet, Mihelich set himself apart from his 8 opponents by detailing his in-depth accounting and leadership skills that have provided unprecedented light on the city’s financial circumstance. “To balance the city’s budget, with a forecasted $27 Million deficit without reducing personnel costs would require a 77% increase in property taxes,” Mihelich highlighted. “A 77% increase?” one forum attendee questioned after the debate. “They lost $500 Million of our tax money and now they want to be mayor? Are you kidding me?
“Tough decisions on personnel costs have to be made and I am prepared to make these tough decisions,” Mihelich said in his comments. “No one said addressing personnel costs would be easy or painless. I did not get us into this mess, but I am prepared to get us out of this mess. The City Council not only sold out the taxpayers of Joliet, they sold out the city’s employees. The employees should not be held accountable. Our City Council should be held accountable.”
Where were their plans before they decided to run for mayor, Mihelich asked of his council opponents. “Where are their plans even today? “When casino revenue is down 40% and new development revenue is down 95%, the current salary structure cannot be maintained. Just like a household budget, the City of Joliet has to live within its means. Their tax and spend policy to maintain the status quo has to end,” Mihelich boldly stated.
Mihelich concluded by reiterating that the City needs need safe and clean neighborhoods. “We need to create awareness on the problems of gangs, illegal drugs, and the homeless and work to solve these problems,” Mihelich said. “My name is Andy Mihelich and I am asking for your vote on April 5th.”
Mihelich served on the Joliet City Center Partnership Board of Directors for over a decade. He helped create the partnership’s vision for downtown redevelopment.
“I urge everyone to vote for Andrew “Andy” Mihelich. He’s number 3 on the ballot. We need a smart, educated mayor. We don’t need 26 years of tax-and-spend.”