By Richard Montgomery
In response to many articles about 2012 Democratic candidates for the Illinois 17th Congressional District, let me say that, from the several candidate forums I have attended, Freeport Mayor George Gaulrapp is the voters’ best bet at the upcoming March 20, 2012, Primary Election.
At each of the forums I attended, I compared each candidate with a simple, high-to-low, 3-point scale that has worked well for me in the past: (1) Substance — substantially and factually answers questions on pertinent issues; (2) Manipulation — plays to an audience’s emotions or popularly-held beliefs; and (3) Name-dropping — pretense of self-importance through loose association.
Gaulrapp consistently scored the highest at every forum, and now that there are only three congressional candidates left running, there is no question in my mind that only Gaulrapp is the single most-qualified candidate for the voters.
Gaulrapp consistently has detailed answers for the people’s questions and never changes the subject back to who he might have known when he was growing up, or how many important hands he has shaken along the way; yet, there have been many.
As mayor, Gaulrapp has been an effective administrator of city staff functions, leading by example during economical duress by personally taking a 10 percent salary cut, and then encouraging city employees to follow his example.
He is a proven and capable budget administrator balancing and maintaining the City of Freeport budget to a surplus balance of $1.25 million, and has garnered hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants for urban renewal and infrastructure projects.
He has been instrumental in progressive talks to get rail transportation service returned to Freeport on its way to Iowa.
Gaulrapp has been a charismatic contract negotiator and arbitrator between bargaining unit employees and city management, allowing for agreeable wage and benefit packages that kept the city safe and secure, and avoided shutdowns of key departments such as public safety.
Gaulrapp has been a good listener, a thorough investigator and tactful problem solver for urban housing issues, working toward improving neighborhoods and encouraging neglectful landlords to clean up or remove dilapidated buildings.
He understands and is an advocate for improved health care issues, especially those involving senior citizens, veterans and the less fortunate.
As president of the Northern Illinois Mayors Association, Gaulrapp serves as a strong leader and respected trend-setter among his peers.
Gaulrapp is a respected elected official who knows how to “walk across the aisle” to achieve mutually beneficial agreements through honest negotiations and compromise.
Gaulrapp is a knowledgeable debater and strong advocate on federal issues concerning manufacturing, transportation infrastructure, waterways, agriculture, nature conservation, and use of renewable energy and natural resources.
Gaulrapp is an avid high school, college and professional sports fan who conscientiously maintains a personal schedule including daily health workouts at the YMCA.
He is a respected and proud Catholic who actively practices his faith through volunteer actions, yet who is known for privately taking time, in public, to bow his head and say grace and give thanks before each meal.
A committed family man, neighbor and friend of many, Gaulrapp is a respected citizen who helps drive others to church when the weather gets too bad for them to drive; who has been known to personally shovel out people’s driveways after a city snowplow plugged the driveway.
But don’t take my word for it. The next time a candidate forum is scheduled, take the time to discover the truth yourself. Or call George and ask him your questions.
Use your own scale of comparison, or use mine. You will find that Gaulrapp is the 17th Congressional District’s “Best Democratic Candidate” deserving of your vote.
Richard Montgomery is a Freeport, Ill., resident.
From the Jan. 18-24, 2012, issue