Ed Hagnauer was one of those candidates who had it easy in the April 9 municipal election. Unopposed for a third four-year term as Granite City Mayor, he didn't have to raise money, knock on doors or put up signs. He only had to wait for another term to begin.
Now that the election's over, the 60-year-old former Granite City fire chief is working on his to-do list for the next four years.
"When I ran the first time, which was eight years ago, my goal was to clean the community up, rebuild the infrastructure, which means roads, curbs, gutters, sidewalks, sewers, and we're continuing on that," he said.
His list of goals includes the Illinois Route 3 business area, continuing work on the downtown, redeveloping parts of the Nameoki Road business district and bringing more hotels and other improvements to the Interstate 270-Route 3 interchange.
We asked him about his plans on a drive through Granite City.
Question: What have been your accomplishments downtown?
Answer: The (Granite City Cinema) movie theater was probably one of our biggest accomplishments. We have reworked the downtown area, and our goal is to make sure we get a restaurant down there. We already have a pizzeria, the theater. We're trying to get a coffee shop down there and a few more businesses. We still haven't thrown away the idea of some housing downtown, which would be senior-type housing. There's a lot of things that for older people that would draw them to that area.
Q: What about the former Kirkpatrick Homes area?
A: One of my goals was to make sure that we got rid of that place and rebuilt, and the housing authority has stepped up big for us, and they really have done that. They're planning on putting 20 more units there. All of the old Kirkpatrick Homes is now gone.
Q: What do you think can be done to keep young people from leaving the city?
A: I've always felt that the problem was that we didn't offer people properties that were big enough. These properties are all built on 35-, 45- and 50-foot lots. A lot of times that's not big enough for a family of three or four. You want a garage, you want a bigger house. So we didn't have that here. What we've been trying to do is as we go through the community and tear down vacant, derelict properties, we will try to sell these to neighbors or one side or the other so they can expand these properties.
The other thing is work well with our park district and our school district because we know those are our top draws into our community. We have to sell them on the only thing Granite has over the other communities is we're affordable. You can buy a 3,500 square foot home here for $220,000.
Q: It seems like everybody on the Granite City Council is getting along well. Why is that?
A: Traditionally, when aldermen are elected, their goals are very narrow, and they look at their own areas, and they don't really expand that, and this group of aldermen that we've got, they're amazing. If there's a project that needs to be done in the Fifth Ward, and it takes half of our (motor fuels tax) money, these guys are willing to do that and give up their little pocket of money and put it out into something that is going to help the city. We all have the same goal. We all have the goal to improve Granite.
Q: You seem like you enjoy your job.
A: I do. I enjoy trying to improve the community. I live here. I don't plan on going anywhere. It's something different every day, so I think it keeps you motivated. Fortunately, I'm able to talk to people and try to work things out. I'll do my best to help you. If I can't I let you know that. If I can, I'll make it happen.