After 10 years as the superintendent at the Springfield City School District, David Estrop now hopes to serve the community in a different capacity — as a city commissioner.
Last year Estrop served as a member of the Community Financial Advisory Committee and was chairman of the city’s tax increase campaign last fall. That issue failed by 277 votes before a modified version passed this spring, but several Springfielders asked Estrop to run for one of the three open seats on the city commission. After talking it over with his wife, Virginia, he decided to seek elected office for the first time.
“We’ve chosen to stay in this city because we love the city and we love the people in it,” he said. “We’re very much at home here. We decided if we’re going to stay here and continue to live and work here, then we had to get involved. We just couldn’t sit on the sidelines … I’ve tossed my hat into the ring and now it’s up to the voters.”
The most important issue facing Springfield is bringing jobs to reverse the population loss, Estrop said. About 700 jobs go unfilled in Springfield each day because the city doesn’t have enough people, he said.
“The financial future of the city is connected to jobs and people,” he said. “We need both … That ultimately is our biggest challenge and our biggest opportunity.”
By bringing more people to the city, it will shore up tax revenues for the schools and the city, he said.
“The city thrives and that’s what we’re after,” Estrop said.
The city, Chamber of Greater Springfield and Clark County have worked together better recently, Estrop said. They must speak with one voice to bring jobs, he said.
Springfield must also have a qualified workforce, Estrop said, and use more tax incentives to help bring businesses and people to the community.
“We have to say to people, ‘Come on in,’” he said.
If elected, Estrop would support adding sexual orientation to the city’s non-discrimination ordinance, he said.
“I oppose discrimination in any form,” Estrop said.
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He also would support resuming the city’s red light camera program, as long as there’s adequate signage, he said. Safety greatly improved during the program’s tenure, Estrop said.
“I want people to be informed with adequate signage,” he said. “But why would you oppose something that’s making our city safer?”
It will take a collaborative effort to address the ongoing opioid crisis in Springfield, Estrop said, including law enforcement, mental health and treatment facilities.
He hopes the city won’t have to go back on the ballot to renew a temporary 0.4-percent income tax passed earlier this year, but also said it’s unclear if the state or federal government will further reduce local government funding.
“If we’re doing the right things, the idea is that we won’t have to go back on the ballot,” Estrop said.
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Education: Rochester (Ill.) High School, Western Illinois University (Macomb, Ill.), University of Illinois at Springfield University, Southern Illinois University.
Employment: Educational consultant, adjunct instructor at Wittenberg University and Antioch University Midwest, retired Springfield City School District superintendent.
Previous elected positions: None.
Website: Elect Estrop on Facebook.com.