After several years of community involvement through such projects as The Center, Mound Farm and the Lunch Spot, Professor of Environmental Studies Peter Schwartzman is now running for alderman in Galesburg’s fifth ward.
Schwartzman has not been campaigning for the upcoming election, confident that with all the free press he has had in town, he won’t have to do much formal campaigning. While he does plan to go door-to-door, Schwartzman is more interested in hosting events where people can get to know him and talk about the city.
Part of what Schwartzman hopes to do as alderman is get people to focus on local solutions to Galesburg’s problems. By getting citizens interested enough to show up at City Council meetings and voice their concerns, Schwartzman hopes Galesburg can improve as a community.
“I’ve been at City Council meetings when there’s been no comments and that is a travesty,” he said. He encourages people to speak up at meetings to start solving problems locally.
If he was able to change one thing about Galesburg in the position of alderman, Schwartzman said it would be to make the opinions of Galesbug residents public.
“I really feel like we have the resources we need,” he said. “Why aren’t we doing it?”
He also stressed that there are misperceptions about what is important to sustaining a local economy, and that while a “big box” or chain store might not be local, the people who work there are.
While Schwartzman has accomplished a lot without the title of alderman, he hopes that with it he can accomplish more.
“I’m not saying the city’s broken and the city’s dead,” Schwartzman said. “I’m saying there’s a lot more the city could do.”
Schwartzman recognized that at Town Hall Meetings created by the People in Galesburg and other events that have come out of The Center, there was not always much diversity or change from week-to-week in the people attending the meetings.
He cited the Lunch Spot as an example of what Galesburg is capable of doing when there are people from all different parts of town working for a common cause.
“Where I fell short in early attempts was that the need I saw wasn’t necessarily the need other community members saw,” he said. He hopes that if more people make their voices heard at venues such as City Council meetings, aldermen and other members of the council will better know what the people of the city want and need.
“You have to identify what’s wrong to make it right,” Schwartzman said.
Elections take place April 5.