Morrissey wins second mayoral debate, too
By Shellie Berg
By Shellie Berg
Mayoral candidates answered questions about city issues including the proliferation of boarded-up homes and quick-take maneuvers, before a packed house of neighborhood organization members in St. Peters Cathedral Jan. 2.
All four candidates attendedRepublican Dennis Johnson, Independent Larry Morrissey, Democrat Doug Scott and Independent Guy Spinello. The League of Women Voters coordinated the event, as the group had earlier that day for the Kiwanis Club at the MetroCentre.
After opening statements, candidates each had one minute each to state their positions on questions from audience members, who mostly inquired about their neighborhoods.
Its nice to share the vision about the city, Johnson said. He also congratulated the groups for being involved in their neighborhoods. He stated the city is securing the future not with bigger government but with better neighborhoods.
Morrissey contended the main component lacking in the city is the failure to follow through with stated plans. He also reiterated his comment from earlier that day about the lack of communication among city hall representatives and constituents. Whos not invited to the planning table? Neighbors, he said.
State Rep. Scott (D-67) said that during his tenure, he helped pass the Abandoned Housing Rehabilitation Act that allows neighborhood groups to petition the circuit court to renovate houses abandoned for a
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year. He also mentioned his attempt to help pass the Live Where You Work Act, but the proposal didnt get out of the Senate. The act would give people who live in the vicinity of their jobs downpayment assistance from the city and state partnering with employers.
Spinello touted the west side throughout the forum. He said that although his business is on the east side, I have the distinction of living on the west side.
He said the mayor needs to get back to
basics and said he would work hard to reduce spending. Im very interested in this community and where were going with it, he stated.
The first question asked was, How closely do you plan to work with the Council of Neighborhood Organizations responding to issues important to constituents?
Although he lives and works in the River District, Morrissey said issues pertaining to State and Madison are just as important as those revolving around State and Perryville.
Scott also mentioned he plans to work closely with the CNO and said he has seen a resurgence of neighborhood groups.
Spinello recently attended a CNO meeting. I think its a wonderful concept, he said. But he was disappointed to see a mere 12 people in attendance. He remarked the group has a long way to go.
Johnson said he would like to appoint a neighborhood director and make resources and news available about neighborhoods.
An unexpected question was posed by an audience member who stood up and firmly inquired whether the candidates would not use quick-take on any property in Rockford and why.
Quick-take is a process similar to eminent domain, where governments can take a property and negotiate later. The county used the measure on the Tom Ditzler property for the Harrison-Springfield extension.
Scott said eminent domain is different than quick-take. He said that to say he would use quick-take automaticallyno. Quick-take doesnt really change the outcome of eminent domain, he said.
Spinello said eminent domain is justifiable, but he doesnt believe in using quick-take.
Quick-take is not something I would be in favor of, Johnson said. However, he said he would consider a slow take measure. We need to make sure neighbors are involved, he said.
Morrissey said he would absolutely not use quick-take. Quick-take barely, barely passes constitutional muster, he asserted. He disagreed with Scott, commenting that quick-take does change the outcome of eminent domain. The county, which noted the extension was on the books for 20 years, took the Ditzler property as though it was an emergency, he said.
Dick Goral, president of Roosevelt United Neighbors Making a Difference (R.U.N), asked about how candidates would fix the boarded-up houses problem.
Spinello said he would like to be supportive about ending the blight of boarded-up houses. He pledged to work with neighborhoods and enforce regulations.
Boarded-up houses are indeed a problem, Johnson stated. He said the city needs creative solutions to repair the board-up situation.
Morrissey said he would discuss eminent domain for board-ups and that although Plexiglas is now used instead of boards to cover up houses, thats just the cosmetics.
Scott said making use of the abandoned building act is important and working with groups would be helpful.
Judging from the response to the quick-take question and informal polling among the audience, Morrissey seemed to be the winner of this second debate, as he was declared the winner of the MetroCentre debate by callers to talk-radio WNTA, 1330-AM.