Let the campaigning commence

Wayne Horne | 2/11/2015, 4:56 p.m.
The campaign season is upon us. The Consolidated Election on April 7 is less than seven weeks from now. The ...
Wayne Horne

The campaign season is upon us. The Consolidated Election on April 7 is less than seven weeks from now. The Mayor and five District Council seats will be decided on Election Day. Last week may have defined a few campaign issues that residents will want answered. What are the big questions? One is “why did it take almost a week to remove the snow and ice on many residential streets?”

A partial answer to the question could be Joliet’s lack of adequate snow removal equipment and the personnel necessary to operate it. That issue was raised at last week’s City Council meeting. Part of the answer for future snow removal events will be contracting out for more private sector help. That is the conclusion city administrators according to a press release issued last Thursday.

Another issue that may become a focal point of the campaign is the redevelopment of Evergreen Terrace. Last week’s meeting was only a starting point for the redevelopment and did not provide many answers. Discussed at the meeting was the possibility of relocation for many of the current Evergreen Terrace residents to other parts of Joliet. There is also a waiting list of 744 applicants who have applied to reside at the housing development.

The City of Joliet has not yet taken possession of the property because the price of the property has not been determined. Exactly how the revenue will be secured for redevelopment is also not clear. One known cost the City of Joliet must bear is the expense of the condemnation lawsuit that began in 2005. The legal expense exceeds $7 million to date according to sources.

One more issue that may be talked about during the next few weeks of campaigning is that of jobs. The loss of over 200 jobs at the Caterpillar plant on Route 6 next year may mean the possible closing of the facility by 2017. Many of the recent jobs the city has gained are from the opening of retail stores and fast food establishments. On the plus side the continued growth and expansion of Center Pointe Properties offers additional opportunities for diversified job growth.

A vote at last week’s City Council meeting to allow a new business in Joliet on City owned property pitted two of the three mayoral candidates against each other. Mayor Tom Giarrante voted to delay an agreement that will allow Eagan Marine to operate a barge repair business on Route 6 next to the Des Plaines River. Giarrante said he did not have adequate information regarding the agreement and wanted to table the vote for another two weeks. The project has been pursued by Eagan Marine for over a year.

Councilman Bob O’Dekirk who is one of two challengers for Giarrante’s position has been a proponent of the project from the beginning. According to the company’s proposal Eagan will employ from 30 to 60 people with jobs paying $35,000-$50,000 plus benefits. The Council approved the agreement by a vote of 5 to 4. Giarrante and at-large Councilman Mike Turk voted to table the agreement. Council members Jan Quillman and Bettye Gavin voted present.

One last thing…the April election will be the most expense mayoral race since Joliet’s incorporation in 1852. Mayor Giarrante added another $11,000 to his campaign war chest according to a report filed February 6 with the State Board of Elections. He’s raised over $63,000 so far in this campaign cycle. O’Dekirk has raised over $80,000 but about half of the total is his own funds. Both campaigns will be spending money on more than just yard signs. If you haven’t received any campaign literature yet, don’t despair, it’s comin’…Stay tuned.

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