I moved to Normal a decade ago to attend Illinois State University, and despite multiple attempts, I haven't been able to leave since. This place keeps pulling me back. The Constitution Trail. Fort Jesse Cafe. Uptown Station. The Coffeehouse. Coffee Hound. The Garlic Press Cafe (RIP). I could keep going on what makes this place home to me, but more than anything it's the incredible community of people who, like me, have found themselves inexplicably rooted here.

But things are changing. I see new development coming to Uptown and North Normal, and it makes me angry. These new developments are not for us; they drain money from our middle class so wealthy investors who don't live here can make a lot more money.

It's irresponsible for our representatives to approve tax abatements for investors from Chicago and Iowa so they can drain Normal's economic vitality for their own benefit. It’s irresponsible for our representatives to give away common land -- land paid for and owned by taxpayers -- so a developer from outside of our community can extract money from our economy in the form of rents.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

I taught music in two small K-8 schools, worked on STEM education research on a National Science Foundation study in the College of Education at ISU, and waited tables to stay afloat when a sudden lack of funding meant a sudden lack of a job.

That's how I know that we need a local government that understands economic development comprehensively. We must see the impact of our decisions on local entrepreneurs, small businesses, and the huge number of residents who are unemployed, underemployed, or just straight-up underpaid.

Your contribution will support this campaign to keep #NormalForAll. I hope you will join my campaign to fight for a future as great as the people who call Normal home.

—JS


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