The next mayor of Cairo, Illinois said he wants to make the city a clean, safe place for people to live.
The city has long been plagued with economic downturn, racial tension and neglected public housing.
Cairo citizens elected Thomas Simpson over incumbent Tyrone Coleman this week.
Simpson works for has served on the city council and has worked for Cairo Public Utilities for 29 years. He also serves as secretary for the Southernmost Illinois Delta Empowerment Zone, or ‘SIDEZ’- a group that promotes economic development, infrastructure development and tourism in southern Illinois.
Simpson said his first priority as mayor is fixing infrastructure issues, such as the city’s water pumps. “Replace all the pumps with new pumps, make sure there’s scheduled maintenance on those pumps, repair the sewer system, clean out the catch basins- and that’s all in the effort to keep the citizens safe here from flooding,” he said.
Simpson said he hopes to bring a grocery store and farmers market to Cairo. He said the city is a ‘food desert’ after losing its only grocery store in 2015.
Simpson said he plans to work with local and state officials to come up with solutions to the city’s problems. “It isn’t going to go down overnight and it’s going to take a while to get things going, but we have to start moving in the right direction,” he said. “Over the last two years, Cairo has been losing- it’s been going downhill- lost the grocery store and last gas pump, so now it’s time to rebuild this city.”
He said he also plans to generate revenue for the city but declined to detail specific plans.
Simpson takes office May 1.