While voters in most of the metro area will find a dearth of city candidates, Rock Islanders have an embarrassment of riches. Though the 3rd and 7th wards are uncontested, R.I. has a three-way race for mayor, a four-way race for 5th Ward alderman and a two-way race for 1st Ward. We'll weigh in Wednesday on mayor. Today our focus is the races for alderman.|
Ald. Terry Brook, who is seeking a fifth term, faces high school principal Ivory Deaon Clark.
Ald. Brooks is the longest serving member of the council. That's not something we envisioned in 1997 when we worried a sometimes abrasive style would harm his ability to realize his grand plans. Sixteen years later, he is one of the city's more effective leaders and the 1st Ward is better for it. The number of derelict properties has declined. Housing is being built. The Martin Luther King Center, whose board he chairs, has expanded dramatically. He's backed a new park near the center and on his current wish list is an overdue upgrade of Rock Island's once grand Douglas Park. (His long-term vision includes construction of a sports center at the MLK Center.)
Mr. Clark, who owns rental properties in the 1st Ward, says the incumbent has focused too much on housing and parks and too little on growth of jobs and business in the ward.
He says Ald. Brooks does not communicate effectively with constituents. That is the first we've heard of such complaints and our experience suggests his visibility remains high.
We like Mr. Clark's enthusiasm, energy and ideas. We welcome his focus on helping the community's youth, a priority he shares with Ald. Brooks.
Those who believe it's time a change would do well to vote for Mr. Clark. If he is not picked April 9, we hope he stays involved; the city needs such leadership.
But because of his experience, leadership and strong record in the 1st Ward, we recommend voters return Mr. Brooks.
The candidates in the race for 5th Ward are as diverse as the ward itself.
They are businessman Dave McAdam, Project Now community services coordinator Kate Hotle, Anthony Heddlesten, an engineer with the Army Corps, and Margie Mejia-Caraballo, who works at the Social Security office in Rock Island. She is running to win back the seat she lost in 2009 to Jason Jones, who did not seek reelection.
The former school board member is deeply involved in her community and believes her stint on the council gives her the edge over the other three candidates. But while she boasts the only experience on the council, all three of the other candidates are active and involved in the city and their community.
Dave McAdam is an excavation and demolition contractor who serves in a crucial, time-consuming and often thankless job as a member of the city zoning board of appeals. He first sought the alderman post in 2007 and is running now to bring his business know-how and construction and demolition experience to the council. Such expertise would be welcome as the R.I. steers projects like WalMart and Jumer's Crossing, as well as a new Fareway. The latter is of particular importance here because it will be located at the site of the former Audubon School in the 5th Ward. All would rather see the school saved, though they acknowledge its future is in the hands of Fareway and the school district, which owns the building.
Despite their young ages, Ms. Hotle and Mr. Heddlesten, both boast impressive biographies and community leadership credentials.
At 25, Ms. Hotle is the youngest of the candidates and, perhaps not surprisingly, attracting young people to Rock Island is a top priority. It is a goal we share and we believe, as she does, that the city is on the right track to do so.
She also has a surprising level of knowledge of and experience in the city after interning with former city manager John Phillips and for several city departments where she put her DePaul University studies in urban planning to good use.
Mr. Heddlesten, 27, says that his problem-solving skills would be an asset to the city and expertise as a civil and environmental engineer would be valuable in making important city decisions. Though this is his first bid for political office, he is a member of both Neighborhood Partners and Broadway Historic Association. That background is evident in his goal of creating a neighborhood ambassadors program to better involve residents in their city government.
We believe that all four of the candidates bring welcome experience and ideas to the table, but we find ourselves drawn to Ms. Hotle and Mr. Heddlesten. We believe both would bring a criticial youth perspective to the table. But because of her experience in working with the city, we recommend Ms. Hotle.
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