Freeport City Manager Referendum

By: Max Seigle
By: Max Seigle

Doug Wages plants a sign in his front yard giving his stance on a City Manager referendum in Freeport.
"Personally I don't feel the taxpayers should be paying anyone else to do what the Mayor's doing anyway," Wages said.
Freeport voters will soon decide if they want a city manager over-seeing operations at city hall. Mayor George Gaulrapp does that now. Folks like Wages say keep it that way.
"It's his responsibility, his job, that's why we elected him," Wages said.
But supporters want change at city hall. Tuesday night, they held a forum educating the public about their side.
"It's just a good idea to seek direct professional assistance, direct involvement that we possibly can," Dave Fonda said.
Part of the education was hearing from current and former city managers. No one took sides. But some say their councils and mayors back home support a city manager system.
"They really like it, the way it works. It doesn't eliminate the necessity for a strong mayor," said East Dubuque City Manager Al Griffiths.
Griffiths says he considers his mayor a partner on the job. And he feels that makes a city manager form of government work well. But putting that work in Freeport rests in these voters hands with the power to "pen" the future at city hall.
The supporters also claim that cities of similar size to Freeport are more and more moving toward a city manager type of government. And they argue that it's simply more efficient because a city manager can run daily affairs while the mayor and council can focus on more long term planning and investment for the community.
Mayor Gaulrapp wasn't at the meeting. But he's said in the past that he feels the group behind this referendum is attacking his leadership. They deny that. Gaulrapp feels he can do the job, he's proven it and has a strong loyalty to Freeport that he says an outside city manager may not.

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