PEORIA, IL -- A forum for at-large Peoria City Council candidates on Feb. 18 produced few concrete answers on what the six contenders would do to improve Peoria's south side. It was sponsored by South Side United for Change.
But one question from the audience revealed quite a bit. The question, "Did you vote for Donald Trump?"
Scott Kelsey quickly said "yes." John Kelly refused to answer saying his vote was private -- an odd answer given the way politicians usually endorse other candidates.
Rob Hanauer said Kelly had said 'yes' at a previous event. Then he said he personally "did not" vote for Trump, drawing the most enthusiastic applause of the day from the large audience at the Lincoln Branch Public Library, the venue for the event.
Amr Elsamny also would not say, and launched into an odd answer about Peoria having home rule.
Sid Ruckriegel also refused to say, and Zach Oyler would not say, but stated he voted for John Kasich in the primary.
The candidates who refused to answer must have been ashamed of their votes. They were hardly profiles in courage and transparency.
Otherwise the candidate forum revealed little. Everyone is for jobs and growth on Peoria's south side, but asked for specifics in how this could be accomplished, no one had any concrete ideas.
Here's one: free and frequent public bus service for Peoria's inner city, similar to the services in Macomb and Urbana, so low income people don't need cars to get to where the jobs are.
Elsamny also advocated for free tuition to community college but didn't suggest a way to pay for it.
Oyler wants to reduce taxes and fees and the hassle of dealing with the city.
Another forum for these candidates is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 23, at 6:30 pm at the Universalist/Unitarian Church, 3000 W. Richwoods Blvd.
The primary election is Feb. 28, and early voting is already taking place.
-- Elaine Hopkins