PEORIA, IL -- A March 27 Peoria city council candidate forum sponsored by the Global Warming Solutions environmental group revealed that the candidates who showed up support environmental issues. They recycle. They care about green space, though two hedged about giving Riverfront Park to developers. They hate air pollution.
Presumably the ones that couldn't make it feared environmental issues. Mayor Jim Ardis, for example, blew off the event, and has never found time to schedule a meeting with the Heart of Illinois Sierra Club. He's running for reelection.
The candidates were given written questions before the event, and even invited to submit written answers. The Global Warming group is debating whether to publish these on its website, and likely will do so.
Here is a recording of the forum.
There's also a report on the Global Warming Solutions website, linked above.
On Riverfront Park apartments: Dave Berry, candidate for District 1, opposes the apartments. Green space should be saved, and construction should go into the vacant buildings, he said.
Incumbent Denise Moore, who is sick with a laryngitis and did not attend, was an early backer and remains in favor. She sent written statements to the questions, and Helen King read them for her.
Her answer hedged: "I support the due diligence. It's not the same as an endorsement." Say what? That answer alone should disqualify her as a candidate.
Ardis supports the apartments. His opponent Couri Thomas is against them.
Jim Montelongo has shifted and now opposes them. "This thing has gone down the rabbit hole," he said. He suggested green space should be considered in city plans, and said it not is considered now. His opponent, Mike Eddleman did not attend but has said he opposes them, in another forum.
So District 4 is a win for Riverfront Park. If a couple of other candidates opposed to the apartments can win, the River Trail Apartments will be history.
Rita Ali, candidate for District 5, is opposed to the apartments. Her opponent, Dennis Cyr, hedged, and said he has "no opinion on the apartments," but "we need green space. We've got to save our parks."
These hedges are very annoying, Moore and Cyr. Tell us where you stand.
Some good ideas came out of this forum, for example planning should include green space, and efforts to reach out to minority workers should be included in city projects such as the garbage hauling contract (amazing it is not now included in contracts).
Everyone said they believe in global warming caused by humans, and they agreed that energy efficiency studies should be done.
The city needs leadership to advance solar projects, Montelongo said. (He would make a good mayor as he knows much about the city and how it works.)
He also mentioned how he supported making people responsible for their storm water runoff, in response to a question about the storm sewer overflow issue. He said he made a motion in executive session, but got no support. If that's correct, it was an illegal closed meeting, as this kind of talk can only take place in public!
-- Elaine Hopkins