Freeport is in a slump. The downtown and older neighborhoods need help, and residents need to get fired up about their town.
The city's mayoral candidates, Pat Leitzen Fye and George Gaulrapp, believe they're the best to light that fire.
"If I, and the people around me, believe in us as a community, in our strengths, in our values, everyone else is going to feel that too," Leitzen Fye said.
"It's imperative we have trust built up again, otherwise, how are people going to buy into projects and help move those projects forward? I think myself as mayor of Freeport can do that," Gaulrapp said.
Since 2000, Freeport is suffering through a substantial decline in manufacturing jobs at employers like Honeywell and Kelly Springfield. While globalization is a significant contributor, Gaulrapp believes City Hall should do more.
"We've had plenty of consultation from outside companies, and it’s time we have actions from those words," Gaulrapp said.
Leitzen Fye, a nine-year City Council veteran, wants a better relationship between Freeport and Stephenson County. She argues it's playing a role in slowing development on this land, the Mill Race Crossing Industrial Park.
"We have potential employees waiting to come, and the longer we delay it, the worse it is going to get. We have a variety of interests, but the government must do its business first," Leitzen Fye.
And with the city's challenges, both candidates are highlighting their personal leadership skills to improve Freeport's job base and community spirit.
"Very strong in marketing skills, and salesmanship. That’s what I've done my entire life," Gaulrapp said.
"We have to focus on our strengths and bring in complimentary businesses to those existing," Leitzen Fye said.
Two candidates, two visions for a community looking for a new jolt, and a new direction.