Background Information: I am 46 years old, deaf and a single father of 3. I have lived in Jacksonville for more than 21 years. I am an ISD graduate and earned a CNA license at LLCC. I am an active advocate for the Deaf Community and serve as a board member of Jacksonville Community Center for the Deaf, JCCD. I am also a member of the Open Communication Movement, OCM, of JCCD. I am the chairperson for the Social Justice Committee of the Jacksonville Chapter of Illinois Association for the Deaf. I achieved the rank of Eagle Scout in 1988. (Yes, I was 13 years old when I got awarded Eagle Scout). I work at Alvin Eades Center as Unit Director.
What event/initiative regarding the City of Jacksonville are you most proud to be involved in? I pushed for the Closed Caption Resolution (October 2019) for the City of Jacksonville with help of Illinois Association for the Deaf and Open Communication Movement.
Do you think our Main Street/downtown is healthy and successful? If not, what would you do to change that? Somehow, we must keep the buildings filled with businesses as well hold more festivals and events downtown. We need to enhance the environment of the downtown. I would love to bring it back similar to times in the past when people could walk around and said hello to each other. “Most Friendly City” is one of my goals for Jacksonville.
If you could change one thing in our zoning code, what would it be and why? There’s nothing that I would change, but I would like to see more flexibility in zoning of planned development allowing the City to grow.
If you received a $1 million grant to use for the city any way you wanted, what would you do with it and why? I would create a program to assist citizens of Jacksonville with repairs of their housing. I’d like to shift the focus to the East side of Jacksonville. We can do better and beautify the forgotten side of the City of Jacksonville.
What is the greatest challenge facing the City of Jacksonville and what would you propose be done to correct that problem? Budgeting. It seems a hot topic right now, especially with increase in property taxes recently. We have to take a real hard look at budget and trim the fat. If we have too much surplus in our reserves then we can cease the taxing and divert the surplus to an area that needs it, in order to get more grants from Illinois and Federal sources.
What is something the Jacksonville City Council has done that you support?
Improved the parks and downtown.
What is the best thing to happen to Jacksonville in the last five years? I believe it would be school improvement – Lincoln, South, and JMS.
What needs to be changed immediately to make Jacksonville a better place to live and work? We need to give attention to the serious and hidden problem that is occurring a lot in Jacksonville, which is Discrimination. Not just discrimination against the Deaf Community, but against all minorities, especially the communities of color. When we get rid of that, then our work can begin. We need to recruit friendly businesses, even better, black-owned business. That would be an awesome idea for the vancant buildings downtown.
Jacksonville has unfilled jobs due to available workforce. Is there anything you can do to help the community get trained workers into this community? We already have many programs that help the unemployed to be placed but they often run out of money or are put on a wait list. We are fortunately to have the new owner Ryan Turner, who wants to start a trade school at a few buildings at MacMurray. I foresee that we can expand the workforce to fill in empty jobs.
How do you see the Illinois Governor’s Criminal Justice Reform Bill impacting the City of Jacksonville? I had mixed feelings on this. Transparency is very important, thus the body cameras. I know that Jacksonville Police Department are working to revamp their system inside City Hall, upgrade the computers first, then body cameras. The bail system was terrible because it kept people in poverty in jail due to their lack of ability to afford bail. However, I am in support of bail for serious crimes.
Personal info you wish to share: I have 3 children, Christine, 21, Orion, 20, and Noah is 16 years old. I am hardcore fan of Star Wars. I enjoy doing plastic modeling, gardening, target shooting, and collect coins.
Lori Large Oldenettel
Background Information: I am a life-long resident of Jacksonville. I have served as Alderman of Ward 2 for 10 years. I am a former precinct committeeman. As a family we enjoy volunteering, giving back to the community and helping others. I am a 25-year member of the Jacksonville Kiwanis Club and a past-president. I have previously served on the boards of the Jacksonville Area Chamber of Commerce, Habitat for Humanity, and the Jacksonville Soccer Association. I served on Passavant Area Hospital’s Community Outreach Committee and now the Healthy Jacksonville Just Jobs Committee. I am an involved volunteer for the David Strawn Art Gallery – Beaux Arts Ball and Art in the Yard, Jacksonville Main Street – Progressive Patio Party and former Co-Chair of the Downtown Celebration, the Jacksonville Area Chamber of Commerce – Fantasy Auction. I am also a member of Faith Lutheran Church. I also assist our sons with the MYLS Foundation (Beckham’s Bookshelf & Kellon’s Sock Drawer). I work for Lincoln Land Community College as the Enrollment Coordinator and have a master’s degree from University of Illinois at Springfield in Human Services.
What event/initiative regarding the City of Jacksonville are you most proud to be involved in? There are many projects I am proud to be affiliated with in Jacksonville. However, the initiative I have been working on for my tenure on the city council has been the Town Brook Project, which has removed thousands of pounds litter and debris from the Town Brook. We have also been working with our City Lobbyist, City Leaders, and state partners to help reduce flooding along the Town Brook. This project is now coming to fruition.
Do you think our Main Street/downtown is healthy and successful? If not, what would you do to change that? When you consider how far the Main Street Project has come in the past 15 years then I would say, “it is successful” and it’s a great example of what can happen when a community comes together. However, all projects have room for improvement and for new ideas. I am seeing a lot of synergy among the downtown business owners and Jacksonville Main Street has an active board with great vision. I think through COVID a greater awareness has been made to the community about the importance of supporting locally owned small businesses when possible.
If you could change one thing in our zoning code, what would it be and why? I think it would be great if we could extend the TIF District. There are many businesses considering a downtown location if we were able to expand the TIF District a few blocks, we could continue to grow our downtown and attract additional businesses. The more store fronts we have downtown, the more downtown traffic we have to support local businesses.
If you received a $1 million grant to use for the city any way you wanted, what would you do with it and why? If given a million dollars, I would focus on an educational campaign in our schools to talk about the importance of not littering, how trash affects our ecosystem, how it brings down neighborhoods. In my opinion picking up litter is something the entire community can do daily, and it benefits every person, residence, and neighborhood. Together we can all work together to make our neighborhoods more attractive. Last fall, I helped to coordinate a Pick-Up Litter Across Jacksonville Project with all the service clubs in Jacksonville. Plans are underway to continue this effort in a more intentional way all year long. A large portion of the money would be set aside to help incentive property owners to make improvements to porches, landscaping, roof and soffit repair, gutters, and sidewalks. These projects would enhance properties, improve curb appeal, and make neighborhoods more attractive. More efforts like these to clean up city streets and neighborhoods will help make our city a more inviting place to live, work and play.
What is the greatest challenge facing the City of Jacksonville and what would you propose be done to correct that problem? Finding able bodied individuals who are willing to work. Weekly, I hear from business owners who are unable to secure long-term employees. When businesses do not have a solid workforce which they can rely on, it makes it difficult for them to expand. City leaders are working daily to help discover ways to build a solid workforce for employers and to identify additional ways to inform individuals living in the community on what jobs are available and where.
What is something the Jacksonville City Council has done that you support? Our family believes in the value of recycling and eliminating waste. Recycling has changed over the years. But I still believe it’s an important project and many residents in Jacksonville have embraced participating on a bi-monthly basis.
What is the best thing to happen to Jacksonville in the last five years? I absolutely love the Jacksonville Rotary Tree Project and the work the Jacksonville Parks and Lakes Department has done to create a greater tree canopy in Jacksonville. I also like the mindset of many community leaders to be more intentional about recreational opportunities.
What needs to be changed immediately to make Jacksonville a better place to live and work? COVID needs to be eradicated so we can gather at community events, support local businesses, and mingle with other people, which helps to strengthen our community.
Jacksonville has unfilled jobs due to available workforce. Is there anything you can do to help the community get trained workers into this community? I serve on the Healthy Jacksonville committee and am the former chair of the Just Jobs sub-committee. We are working with community leaders to help identify barriers for individuals who are seeking employment. Examples of these barriers include: reliable transportation, child care, appropriate attire, public computer access to apply for jobs, locations that offer wi-fi connections, and career counseling. We are also working with business owners to identify the concerns with hiring individuals for jobs they have posted. Several things are in the works to help both employers and those looking for employment.
How do you see the Illinois Governor’s Criminal Justice Reform Bill impacting the City of Jacksonville? I support reform of the bill and accountability for law enforcement. However, I feel there are a lot of problems within the bill that still need to be addressed. Both police officers and citizens need to feel safe. There needs to be a balance. Many of the mandates in the bill do not come with funding to support these actions, therefore these expenses will be passed along to the taxpayers.
Personal info you wish to share: Together with my husband, Mike Oldenettel we have four children. It has been an honor serving the community for the past 10-years as an Alderman of Ward 2 and I would appreciate your vote on April 6.