STERLING – Ward 1 candidates talked about their views on what is needed in their part of the city as well as some ideas on how to push Sterling forward at a candidates forum sponsored by the Sauk Valley Chamber of Commerce.
Incumbent Alderwoman Retha Elston, 55, and Dasan Klingenberg, 23, are vying April 2 for the council seat.
Elston, a registered nurse at KSB Hospital in Dixon, has held her seat for 13 years; Klingenberg, a US Cellular sales associate, is seeking his first term.
Both see infrastructure and getting rid of eyesores as a priority for their ward.
“We need to continue to enforce the city codes and update them,” Elston said at Tuesday’s forum at City Hall. “We also need to cleanup the blight in the neighborhoods.
“We’ve done a fantastic job, and we need to keep getting grants for demolition work and get feedback from our residents.”
Klingenberg said there are several sidewalks that need to be fixed quickly.
“There are entire blocks of sidewalks that you can’t walk on. We need to take a harder look at the infrastructure in our area,” he said.
Sterling has untapped potential for young entrepreneurs to create local businesses that take advantage of technological advances, Klingenberg said.
“So many businesses are coming out of the technological revolution, and we need to be open to them,” he said. “In many cases, those online businesses encourage that spirit.”
Elston said Sterling has many assets to lure young people just starting their careers, either to come or to stay in the city rather than moving elsewhere.
“We have excellent schools, health care and parks,” Elston said. “We have a bike path and the Grandon Civic Center, but we need to always ask what more can we do.”
Challenges ahead include how to best utilize the Lawrence Brothers site, and how to fund pension costs, Elston said.
Finding the money to fix street an sidewalks and streets and reviewing the riverfront redevelopment plan are priorities for Klingenberg.
“There’s never any money for failing infrastructure, and that’s not acceptable,” he said. “The riverfront is not even close. There’s been no progress in the last 4 years.”