Holt not ruling out mayoral run in ’09

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-117692854332691.jpg’, ‘File photo’, ‘Ald. Jeff Holt (D-11) did not rule out the possibility when asked if he would run for mayor in 2009.‘);

After a surprise last-minute move, when Ald. Jeff Holt (D-11) publicly announced his opposition to the 1 percentage point sales tax increase, many questioned the alderman’s motives.

When the Winnebago County Taxpayer Advocates’ (WCTA) anti-sales tax spots in which Holt appeared began airing April 13, Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey (I) and some aldermen accused Holt of being politically motivated.

In response, Holt stated, “Personal comments about me or the other aldermen, I believe, are inappropriate.”

By aligning himself with the WCTA, funded largely by Road Ranger LLC, Holt may have found a powerful friend indeed.

Dan Arnold, a contributor to numerous local and state campaigns, is co-owner and president of Road Ranger. Developer Sunil Puri is the other major investor in

Road Ranger. WCTA President Tim Emert is a Road Ranger vice president.

Another $40,000 was reported to have been given to the WCTA April 12, bringing Road Ranger’s total contributions to $110,000 in opposing the April 17 sales tax referendum.

Last-minute contributions to the Citizens for Rebuilding Rockford, in favor of the referendum, were:

$2,000 from Anderson Enterprises LLC

$1,000 from The Buckley Companies LLC

$1,000 from Nicolosi & Associates LLC

$1,000 from Joel and Sharon Sjostrom

$500 from ARC Design Resources Inc.

On the eve of Election Day, Citizens for Rebuilding Rockford had received $117,750 in contributions for the current referendum campaign. The WCTA received $118,111.01.

Despite the 11th-hour boost for opposition forces, it has been argued that Holt voted to put the 1 percentage point sales tax increase on the ballot. Holt, however, says his vote was simply to let residents decide.

“Right now, I’m trying to do a good job for the residents that elected me,” he said. “Making decisions that I feel are in their best interest, and that’s why I made this decision.”

During council debate Jan. 22, Holt suggested the city issue $10 million in bonds, backed by property taxes, to fund road improvements as a temporary measure. With property owners already up in arms over taxes, the idea was quickly abandoned.

A week later, Ald. Joe Sosnowski (R-1) attempted to amend the 1 percentage point increase to .75-percent. Aldermen Frank Beach (R-10), Carl Wasco (D-4), Ann Thompson-Kelly (D-7), Nancy Johnson (D-8) and Holt supported Sosnowski, but the motion failed.

Holt then suggested using a quarter-percentage point of the increase to pay down existing bonds, thus providing property tax relief.

“When, two years from now, we open our property tax bill, and the city’s rate went down by 14 percent,” Holt said to Morrissey, “you’re gonna have a good opportunity to be re-elected, Your Honor.”

Morrissey chose not to heed Holt’s advice.

Aldermen Lenny Jacobson (D-6), Wasco, Thompson-Kelly, Johnson, Beach, Holt and Linda McNeely (D-13) voted in favor of the amendment, pitting aldermen in a 7-7 deadlock.

Morrissey broke the tie by joining Aldermen Bill Timm (R-9), John Beck (R-12), Dan Conness (D-14), Sosnowski, Pat Curran (R-2), Doug Mark (R-3) and Victory Bell (D-5) in voting down Holt’s property tax relief plan.

Ald. Linda McNeely (D-13), who argued for a Plan B should the referendum fail, stood alone against placing the full percentage point increase on the ballot.

When asked by The Rock River Times if he could say for certain he will not run for mayor in 2009, Holt responded, “Right now, I have not made any decisions as to whether or not I’m gonna run for mayor, whether or not I’m gonna run for alderman.”

Although maintaining he hasn’t decided if he’ll run for anything at all, Holt’s answer clearly left a run at the Mayor’s Office a distinct possibility. Regardless, Holt says his opposition to the referendum had nothing to do with political aspirations.

“I’ve not received any financial contributions from the folks that are financing the opposition,” Holt indicated, “and they’ve not made any promises of any contributions in the future.”

from the April 18-24, 2007, issue

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