ROCKFORD (WIFR) — Michael Kleen released the following statement after conceding defeat with 18 percent of the total vote in the 3-way race for mayor:
“First, I would like to congratulate Larry Morrissey on winning a third term in office. It was a pleasure getting to know both of my opponents over the past several months. This was a tough race and a lot of important issues were raised. I look forward to working with both men to move Rockford forward over the next four years.
“The election results demonstrate that a majority of Rockford voters want change, and I look forward to working with Mayor Morrissey to address the concerns of these voters. Public safety must become the number one priority of the current administration. We need to get our police department up to full strength (and keep it there), and continue to pursue the best methods to reduce crime on our streets.
“My expectation is for Mayor Morrissey to replace our deeply unpopular Chief of Police, Chet Epperson. Chief Epperson has been a major point of contention for law enforcement personnel, and many who voted for either Jim Hughes or myself were really voting to replace Epperson.
“Prior to the election, Mayor Morrissey promised to release the complete cost of moving to a geographic policing model based out of three separate buildings. These figures were never released, and I urge Mayor Morrissey to release them within the next few weeks. Rockfordians deserve to know what the actual and complete cost of geo-policing will be.
“I also urge Mayor Morrissey to conduct a forensic audit of the city’s 32 Tax Increment Finance districts and make the results known to the public. In the interest of transparency and good government, the mayor should be ready to hold accountable anyone who abused, mismanaged, or misappropriated TIF funds over the past eight years.
“I will continue to lobby our local government to adopt free market reforms and to abandon its top-down approach to economic development. Fewer restrictions on local businesses and lower costs for business licenses would be two simple steps in that direction.
“Finally, a heart-felt thank you to everyone who supported me, who voted for me, who made phone calls, sent emails, walked door to door, donated, and put out yard signs. You are the folks who matter and none of this would have been possible without you. If there was any victory last night from achieving the highest percentage for a Republican candidate for mayor in Rockford in more than 8 years, it was yours.”