Rockford Mayoral Debate

By: Alice Barr
By: Alice Barr

The four candidates for Rockford mayor take on tough issues and each other, in a debate at the Coronado theater. Here's a look at what's up for discussion between the four very different men.

The four candidates are incumbent Larry Morrissey, an Independent, retired police lieutenant and union leader Doug Block, a Democrat; Winnebago County Board Member John Harmon, a Republican, and Green party candidate Jesus Correa.

One top issue the rivals addressed was how to fill the city's 8.6 million dollar budget deficit. The candidates were asked how to manage employee costs in particular.

Here's a sampling of their responses, beginning with Correa's take on making better use of the city's current employees.

"Make it mandatory that if you're just around not doing anything at your computer, you're going to get outside and do some streetwork and fill in some potholes do some yardwork and clean up the litter," says Correa.

Block adds, "You have to start from the bottom, work your way up and find what positions you don't need to have that are duplicated efforts and what agencies can we have assist us with Rockford to get things done, that we're currently doing with our staff that we have."

"It's absolutely destructive to people when you do take their job and yet at some point you just do have to be tough enough to understand that we've tried to be all things to all people, we can't be," says Harmon.

Morrissey counters, "We have to cut waste out of the city's budget and the truth is, the manning changes that we've proposed for the fire department, reducing manning from four to three on an engine company, that doesn't put our citizens in jeopardy, but it does costs that can be put into other parts of the city budget."

One issue where the challengers don't see eye to eye with the current mayor deals with how school board members should be selected.

Mayor Morrisey says having the administration select the school board members will insure accountability. Doug Block supports the current election system saying it does provide accountability, at the polls. Meantime John Harmon says school board elections are the only way to insure proportional representation.

The candidates also addressed topics ranging from home rule, to new policing strategies and how to draw more businesses to Rockford.

Remember the election is coming up soon, you can head to the polls April 7th.

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