Left Justified: Changing the guard at City Hall

Well, the election is over, and the gloating can begin. What an amazing vote for Larry Morrissey! Fifty-five percent, 14 points ahead of the incumbent. The first time in Rockford’s history, on many counts. It was a good, clean election, and the candidates treated each other with respect. ’T’weren’t no mud slinging as far as I could tell. Sure, some yard signs were lost, but this is Rockford, and yard signs are the lingua franca of politics here.

I thought Gloria Cardenas Cudia conducted herself exceptionally well in the debates, and I especially applauded her statements against racism. But everyone seemed to know she had been set up to try to draw votes away from Larry Morrissey, whether she knew that or not. There are machinations far beyond those of mortal eyes, and we can only guess at the reasoning.

Supporters of Republican Congressman Don Manzullo heavily funded Larry’s campaign, whereas Gloria got most of her support from State Sen. Dave Syverson. Go figure!

I knew Doug’s promotion of a casino would sink him, along with the sometimes-arcane City Hall bureaucracy. It’s not often I work with cultural conservative Christians, but we forged an alliance to oppose a riverboat. I am not a one-issue person (Lord knows), but many people had the same concern for the welfare of those who would become habitual gamblers, even though $10 million would be raised for the city.

I was embarrassed by this newspaper’s gushing endorsement. I doubt if Larry even read the whole thing himself. I’ve always said that Frank Schier needs an editor. It wasn’t fair blaming Doug for all the problems of Rockford: no university, no railroad, and the Interstate on the far east side of town. Doug Scott has worked hard for this community, keeping it afloat during poor economic times.

I agree that some of the urban sprawl, as an environmental concern, is because of Doug. But he tried to keep the fallout to a minimum while providing jobs and economic growth (unlike our neighbors to the north).

Doug’s had difficulty with his own bureaucracy. For example, I’ve been working with a small housing group called Rockford New Hope. They’re fixing up an old Victorian house on Kishwaukee and Seventh, which is not your normal gated community. There’ve been loads of volunteers; the union plumbers sent a free work crew, and area suppliers have given discounts. But the Community Development section of the city is still pondering whether to assist this little goodwill project.

It’s bounced from one person to another, and the volunteers can’t get a straight answer. Why is that? Is it something I said? (I sit on the board for Rockford New Hope.) Did somebody fill out the paperwork wrong? Are there some hoops that should be jumped through? I think many people who wait for city approval have had the same experience.

Whether Larry can clean house and run the city more efficiently will soon be seen. I wish him the best of luck and will do whatever I can to make his administration a success.

One last note—Larry’s campaign included such a broad spectrum of people. It was a wonder to behold, and I hope and pray that we can keep that spirit alive for as long as possible.

Stanley Campbell is executive director of Rockford Urban Ministries and spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice.

From the April 13-19, 2005, issue

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