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Alderman Candidate Frank Wants More Proactive Approach To Infrastructure

Chip Frank
Ryan Denham
Chip Frank is running for Bloomington City Council in Ward 4.

Bloomington City Council candidate Chip Frank said he wants the city to be more proactive about rebuilding its aging sewers, water mains, and streets.

Frank previously ran for city council in 2015, losing to Alderman Amelia Buragas in Ward 4. But Buragas is not seeking a second term in the April 2 election.

Frank said his ownership of an independent insurance agency, Capen Frank Proctor & Bowles Inc., has prepared him well for the job. He said he’s also served in leadership roles in a statewide association representing independent insurance agents. 

"If we can be more proactive and do a better job of planning ... I think that'll save us money in the long run."

“When you own a small business, you have to do many of the same things as a city, at a much smaller scale,” Frank said on GLT’s Sound Ideas. “We’ve balanced a budget. We have HR issues. We have to be competitive in the marketplace. We have to keep up with new ideas and trends. The most fun part is we get to work with other businesses to grow. It’s not a lot different than a city council position.” 

Frank said he’s not inclined to raise property taxes, preferring to raise revenue through economic growth. But he said balanced budgets are important and that aldermen must be “open-mind when you’re looking at revenue sources.” He said he might be open to raising the city’s 4-cent motor fuel tax, as Mayor Tari Renner and others have supported in the past to pay for street repairs.

“That’s a little easier to digest,” Frank said. “It’s really a tough issue.” 

When asked about his approach to historic preservation and downtown Bloomington, Frank said infrastructure was key to both. Ward 4 in central Bloomington includes several historic neighborhoods and parts of downtown. 

“We need to do a little better job of trying to get in front of some of those things, infrastructurewise,” Frank said. “If we can be more proactive and do a better job of planning what needs to be done and how to do that, I think that’ll save us money in the long run.” 

Aldermen have taken some proactive steps on infrastructure already. In fall 2017, they approved a sharp increase in sanitary sewer and stormwater fees to begin tackling $136 million in needed infrastructure improvements over the next 20 years. 

With Buragas not seeking a second term, Frank will face Julie Emig in the April 2 election. Buragas is one of three aldermen not seeking re-election.

Buragas said in November that her decision to step away was "made easier" knowing Emig would be running and that they have "many shared interests and priorities.” 

“Amelia has done a fine job. She is similar (to me) in some cases, in that she’s a businessperson, as I am,” Frank said of Buragas, who is an attorney in private practice. “There are some differences. She was supported by the mayor, as is my opponent. That plays into all of those types of dynamics.”

Frank was not critical of Buragas' tenure in his GLT interview. 

“Other than that, I like to listen and work with people in coming up with a solution that everybody can live with. You do what you feel is the best. I know that anybody serving in a public office wants what’s best for the people of Bloomington. And I know Amelia is no different. She’s worked hard for that,” Frank said.

GLT's full interview

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Ryan Denham is the digital content director for WGLT.