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Peoria District 3 City Council race focuses on taxes

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PEORIA (WEEK) -- The two candidates in the race to represent Peoria's third district on City Council have been there before.

Gale Thetford served two terms on the Council from 1997 to 2005. Tim Riggenbach is the three-term incumbent for this seat. Much of the debate between them is around taxes and public safety.

"[Riggenbach] really comes up with excuses as to why all of the fees and increases were ok and that he talked to the people of the third district about it," Thetford said.

Thetford has criticized Riggenbach for voting to raise taxes. Riggenbach says raising taxes is sometimes necessary as long as you are clear and transparent with constituents.

"That's how government is funded," Riggenbach said. "Ultimately, that's probably the biggest difference between me and my opponent."

Riggenbach says some of the tax increases he supported were for popular road construction improvements and public safety. Both candidates support increasing funding for police and fire, but they want to go about it in different ways.

"I don't just say I believe in public safety and maximizing police and fire protection," Thetford said. "I actually support that."

Thetford says it isn't as simple as choosing between making cuts to public safety and raising taxes. She believes there are other options, like moving existing money and looking for external funding sources.

Riggenbach says that's not a sustainable strategy long term.

"This is the taxes you pay,. This is where the money goes. She says she wants to do more but not raise taxes or fees. My question to her is 'where are you going to get the money?"

The two candidates finished around 350 votes apart in the primary, with Riggenbach leading and Thetford second. Voters will decide in the General Election on Tuesday April 6.

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Alex Gaul

Alex Gaul joined WEEK 25 News and Heart of Illinois ABC in January 2021 as a Multimedia Journalist. He formerly worked for KPNX-TV and KAET-TV, both in Phoenix, Arizona. The Illinois-native is an alum of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University.

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