I, Paul Beakman, am a retired Lockport Police officer and I have lived my entire life in the same house in the 1st Ward. In 2019, I ran for alderman and lost by 17 votes against a two-term incumbent. I am asking the community to give me an opportunity to serve again. I know the streets of Lockport and its people. With that experience I know where the problems are and what are the needs of the residents. As a retiree I have all the time and energy to devote myself fully to the needs of the 1st Ward and the entire city of Lockport.
The city continues to struggle, and we have to figure out positive ways to change it or it will continue down the path of a dying city. I truly love this city and I am so proud of its incredible place in history, but we have to fix things soon for a brighter future. We cannot forget the people in the middle- and lower-income areas. We need to listen to people and re-prioritize. We can’t let things fester to the point of no return.
I will propose to allow homeowners making a capital improvement to the exterior of the home they occupy a five-year grace period in having their assessments raised. Currently if a homeowner puts new siding on their home the city raises their assessment based on the amount of the cost of the improvement. This has caused many homeowners to not make exterior improvements to their homes thus contributing to the blighted condition of many of our older neighborhoods.
The current city-wide reassessment may force citizens out of their homes if values are based on the prices for sold property during this housing bubble. Just because someone pays above market value for a house in the city that does not mean the entire neighborhood is worth that. There are $30,000 houses being sold for $130,000 to $160,000 and yet they are still $30,000 houses. If these grossly inflated values are then imposed unto neighboring homes this will force many of our citizens to no longer be able to afford the taxes on their homes. I promise that I will look out for our citizens and be a diligent watchdog to protect against this potential reassessment.
I worked with my partner whose company purchased a well-established (60+ years) Lockport engineering company located in the 1st Ward which meant the jobs and the business stayed in Lockport. It was very apparent that to an outside investor Lockport is run-down and this almost hindered the sale of the business. When a city that looks blighted and presents the appearance that no qualified workers live here, this may cause businesses to look elsewhere. I will work hard to fix the blight, work with our homeowners to encourage improvements to their property and encourage skilled trades education for our young.
Having spent my career protecting the citizens of Lockport and keeping all of you safe I am asking you to consider electing me the next 1st Ward Alderman. That way I can continue working to make Lockport and the 1st Ward a great place to live and work at.
PAUL BEAKMAN, Lockport