Background Information: I’m born, raised and graduated high school in Jacksonville. I traveled on the road as a welder after I lost my union welding job to NAFTA. My life revolved around hard work until a mosquito bite sent me into a two-month coma from West Nile Virus. While on SSDI, I got retrained by DRS as a Certified Welding Inspector and began to give back as a public servant on City Council and Precinct Committeeperson. I value the working-class and have been a powerful advocate for making sure the average person’s voice gets heard in local government.
What event / initiative regarding the City of Jacksonville are you most proud to be involved in? There are a few I’m very proud of Jacksonville for. The Healthy Jacksonville Initiative is a great program to help this community tackle its biggest disparities like mental health, transportation, food insecurities/nutrition, and poverty are the top few that I’ve been thrilled to help tackle. I have also volunteered every month at the Temporary Emergency Overnight Shelter Accommodation (TEOSA), that gives support to those in need, including veterans. I am helping to get Jacksonville a long-term or permanent solution for our homeless community that just need help in this tumultuous time.
Do you think our Main Street/downtown is healthy and successful? If not, what would you do to change that? All the funding mechanism are there for a vibrant downtown, but there isn’t much advertising for those grant’s availability to the owners. So much of all the local businesses have been ran out by places like Walmart, who don’t pay their employees, our citizens, enough money so the Jacksonville taxpayers must pick up the tab for their assistance, all while selling us cheap imported products that small local businesses cannot compete with. This city has millions in the bank and should definitely invest some back into the community to help local owners and employees.
If you could change one thing in our zoning code, what would it be and why? I have recently been working with the Zoning Commission and Community Development on an amendment to the Zoning Code to allow tiny homes in Jacksonville. A few surrounding communities have even used this initiative to help eliminate veteran homelessness, which I am currently advocating for.
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 invest it in a city owned fiber optic network. The City can provide a faster more affordable service than any private company ever will, which is exactly what the people and businesses of this community need to be successful in this new digital age, that COVID-19 made so evident.
What is the greatest challenge facing the City of Jacksonville and what would you propose be done to correct that problem? The problem is the old guard thinking those same old ways in this new era. There needs to be more involvement with the people, and elect officials who aren’t about to retire. Unfortunately everyone younger is to busy working just to survive and don’t have “extra” time for local government. Our system is broken, and continuing down this same “old path” will lead us further from where we need to be as a community.
What is something the Jacksonville City Council has done that you support? I was proud to spearhead the local cannabis initiative that gave Jacksonville’s government the power to legislate accordingly. ‘Opting in” already brought over $10k in taxes here since January 2020, and there still isn’t a cannabis business open yet. The local ordinance allows for the first farm-to-table business in the nation and Jacksonville was the first to pass it. A small cultivation center can acquire a dispensary license and an on-site consumption permit to grow, sell, and consume their local products in the same place.
What is the best thing to happen to Jacksonville in the last five years? The Census! Maybe when the 2020 numbers roll in and this community sees how far downhill it’s going, this city’s government will choose a better plan to reverse the situation by investing in the people again. If not, the City will replace the current elected officials with people more in tune to helping the entire community from the bottom up.
What needs to be changed immediately to make Jacksonville a better place to live and work? The wages, plain and simple. I asked the City Council to provide paid sick leave and raise wages for businesses with over 500 employees to an immediate minimum of $15/hr last year after the pandemic began. This country keeps giving trillions of dollars in handouts to the biggest businesses, and those exact same businesses are the ones who can immediately afford to start bringing our citizens out of poverty with a living wage. The manufacturing jobs aren’t coming back anytime soon and this community is struggling! We can’t fix the secondary problems like dilapidated properties, homelessness, food insecurities, crime, addiction, and unemployment until those people have the ability to earn enough to support themselves, their family, and all their needs. The U.S Dept of HUD says the fair market rent of 30% of a family’s income on housing puts an Illinois single mother of two kids needing to make $20.11/hr (40hrs/wk) in order to afford a 2-bed apartment. $15/hr isn’t even enough now! Think about it, Jacksonville could be the first in the state to pay its citizens a living-wage!
Jacksonville has unfilled jobs due to available workforce. Is there anything you can do to help the community get trained workers into this community? Good question! How do you force people to work for sub-standard wages? Make sure they’re desperate enough to take that underpaid job. A better solution would be to increase wages until people actually want to apply for that position. This is the business’s choice to not provide our citizens enough in wages that those positions get filled with qualified help.
How do you see the Illinois Governor’s Criminal Justice Reform Bill impacting the City of Jacksonville? It won’t impact us hardly at all. Most of those mandates the JPD has been doing for the past few years. I think more accountability with body cameras will be a benefit for law enforcement. I asked the City this year to provide that funding for body cams when a grant becomes available. There is money set aside in the police budget to do that this year if needed. Other pieces of the bill like more privacy for assault victims, mandatory unified report forms for people who die in custody, and mandatory reporting of police misconduct by other officers are all good things in my opinion.
William “Kent” Hannant, Jr.
Background Information: I was born and raised in Jacksonville; living here my entire life. I graduated from Jacksonville High School in 1990. Also, I attended Lincoln Land Community College for 2 years. I started working for Mobile Chemical and I continue to work for Reynolds Corporation; I have worked there for 30 years. My family has owned and operated Bill’s West State Tavern since 1977. I owned a lawn care company for 10 years serving Jacksonville and Springfield.
What event/initiative regarding the City of Jacksonville are you most proud to be involved in? I am proud of my family for having the ability to give back to the community through different social events. The family bar has hosted fund raisers for different organizations, such as Paws, St. Judes Children’s Hospital, and different non for profits in Jacksonville. I have also donated products from our family bar to other fund raisers, such as the Red Ride, Christmas Boxes for Troops, just to name a few. My family also donates our time to helping at different community events. I take pride in what my family is able to give back to our community.
Do you think our Main Street downtown is healthy and successful? If not, what would you do to change that? I feel that the Main Street downtown is healthy and they strive to make it better every year. However, I would like to keep encouraging others to host their events downtown. Having different events downtown brings people together in the community, it gets people out and it supports the local economy.
If you could change one thing in our zoning code, what would it be and why? I do not presently have any issues with the zoning codes. However, if I am elected Alderman for Ward 3 and a resident that lives in my Ward has an issue with a zoning code. I would hope that this person would contact me, so I could bring this matter to the city council and work together to resolve the problem.
If you received a $1 million grant to use for the city any way you wanted, what would you do with it and why? As fun as it would be to receive a million dollar windfall and use it for something fun and exciting for the city of Jacksonville. I think it would be in the best interest of our community to put this money toward the city debt.
What is the greatest challenge facing the City of Jacksonville and what would you propose be done to correct that problem? The State Hospital has become a blight to our community with its empty boarded up buildings and an EPA nightmare. I would like to encourage the City of Jacksonville to work alongside the State of Illinois to clean up the problem. The State Hospital is on our main thoroughfare coming into town and makes for an unattractive eyesore.
What is something the Jacksonville City Council has done that you support? The introduction of the i3 broadband to the residents of Jacksonville.
What is the best thing to happen in Jacksonville in the last five years? The introduction of the Jacksonville downtown celebration.
What needs to be changed immediately to make Jacksonville a better place to live and work?
Jacksonville already is a great place to live and work, like any other small town it has its positives and negatives. If I am elected Ward 3 Alderman I want to work with other Aldermen to continue to make this town better.
Jacksonville has unfilled jobs due to available workforce. Is there anything that you can do to help the community get trained workers into this community? We need to start at the high school junior level and work with District 117 to create a type of partnership with local businesses, contractors, manufacturing and industrial companies, that encourage young adults to work while going to school. This type of program would allow the students to work through the summer, too.
A type of work study program that would combine work-based on the job learning and hands on training. Giving young students the ability to learn a trade and apply work credits toward vocational classes at school. I realize that Jacksonville High School has a CVE program for seniors and I feel it needs to be expanded and tailored to the Jacksonville area more than the state level.
How do you see the Illinois Governor’s Criminal Justice Reform Bill impacting the City of Jacksonville? I feel that the no cash bail will leave the city of Jacksonville less safe. This could enact a type of revolving door for criminals and making an unsafe work environment for our local police officers.
Personal info you wish to share: I am married to Shelly Hannant and we have 2 sons, Cole Butler and Eric Hannant. Shelly is a Parent Educator with the Early Years Preschool Program through Jacksonville School District 117 and an On Call/Crisis Intervention for Midwest Youth Services. Our oldest son, Cole Butler attends the University of Wisconsin, Platteville majoring in Industrial Engineering. Our youngest son, Eric Hannant is a senior at Jacksonville High School and will be graduating this May. I consider myself a lifelong WWII historian. I helped with the start up of the Pike County All Wars Museum. I love to travel and in 2019 I was able to travel to Europe to 6 different countries seeing different WWII museums, battlefields and experience many different cultures. During my downtime I enjoy riding my Harley and spending time with our dogs and my family.