Can Galesburg benefit from Knox College? Karen Lafferty certainly thinks so. Lafferty, who calls Knox a “valuable asset,” would like to see Knox graduates stay in Galesburg and establish businesses locally. She also would like to see Knox students put the academic knowledge they obtain in the classroom to practical, hands-on use in Galesburg. “For example, if someone in Galesburg wants to start a business, a student can help develop a business plan.” She would also like to see students get more involved in volunteer projects such as town beautification and tutoring kids from low-income families.
Lafferty credits Galesburg as having several strengths such as “friendly people, two well-known colleges, two great hospitals, Cottage and St. Mary’s, a good primary and secondary education system.” Lafferty is aware of the rising high school dropout rate. To combat this, she would like to find out exactly why dropping out is going on and have Knox College and Carl Sandburg Community College work cooperatively to develop a potential alternative education plan.
Lafferty, who considers herself a “realist,” wants to move Galesburg’s business and economy towards a “different direction,” away from large manufacturing. As mayor, she would have the opportunity to put this plan in action by seeing to the expansion of Galesburg’s small local businesses and the tourism industry. She would like to have more people visit, move to, and build local businesses in Galesburg, which she sees as having the potential to be “more than just a manufacturing town.” Lafferty believes that more local businesses would create a bigger tax base, and combined with the revenue from the tourism industry, would reinvigorate Galesburg’s economy.
To boost up the town’s public safety, Lafferty would like to see more streetlights installed, as well as have more public safety officers on duty.
In addition to her duties as alderman of Ward 5, Lafferty, 64, is a retired account technician. She is a mother of two and a grandmother of four.