The days leading up to Monday night’s swearing-in ceremony has been packed for Mayor-Elect Larry Morrissey. He's made a point to meet with all city aldermen as well as other important city leaders.
Morrissey is also working to fulfill one of his campaign promises to stop truancy in the city. So far, Morrissey and Rockford Public School District Superintendent Dr. Dennis Thompson share a common bond. Both agree that Rockford has a major truancy problem.
Rockford has a truancy rate of four times the state average, and due to that, District 205 loses out on more than $6.5 million in annual state aid. Morrissey wants to hire an education director. This person would coordinate Rockford’s education assets in the public and private sector.
During a phone interview, Superintendent Dr. Dennis Thompson said he is willing to listen to Morrissey's ideas and is excited about his energy. Truancy also tops Dr. Thompson's to-do list.
Tackling new issues and earning public and city officials trust is all too familiar for former Rockford Mayor John McNamara. He served from 1981 to 1989 and says the city's priorities have changed since he's been in office. McNamara says jobs are at first and foremost as this new era begins.
McNamara says, "The private sector really creates jobs what the mayor has to do is establish the climate for good things to take place and really have a pro-business attitude."
McNamara even offered some advice to the new mayor. He says he learned that honesty is the best policy.
McNamara tells 23 News, “I think people understand. They want people to be honest, they want someone to listen to and talk about the major issues facing us."
Under the new administration some of the issues former Mayor Doug Scott dealt with will carry over. Morrissey just plans to take on a few more issues to tackle like rail, roads and river to his agenda.
To pay for an education director, Morrissey wants to revise the budget in order to replace funds set aside for a green communities and special projects coordinator. The education director would have to be approved by the Rockford City Council.