The Carbondale Observer

News and commentary about Carbondale, Illinois and SIUC

City Council: Who I Voted for and Why

with 8 comments

As everyone knows, Earl Czajkowski, Montana Goodman, Craig Anz, and Jerrold Hennrich were eliminated from the city council race in Tuesday’s primary.  Yesterday, I wrote a post explaining which mayoral candidate I voted for and why. Today’s post explains which city council candidates I voted for and why. I voted for Jane Adams, Lee Fronabarger, and John Holt. Some might consider that an odd bunch, so I’ll explain. The first time I mention a candidate, I’ll put his or her name in bold.

Before I go on, I want to explain the way I approach city council elections. Usually there is at least one candidate who stands out as deserving my vote. There are usually some candidates who I summarily dismiss because I don’t think they are serious. Then I sort through whoever is left until I find enough candidates to vote for. I like a broad range of views and experience on city council, so I sometimes pick candidates who disagree with each other.

First, I want to address the candidates I summarily eliminated. Student candidates generally aren’t serious. They are generally short term residents with little understanding of the community. There have been exceptions, notably Joe Moore in 2007, but as a rule I don’t even consider student candidates. Montana Goodman fell into that category, and I never considered voting for her.

Jerrold Hennrich is also a student, but he is older than the average student, owns a home in Carbondale, and is rooted in the community. I briefly considered Hennrich because I think it would be good to have a younger person on city council. Unfortunately, Hennrich didn’t seem to have many ideas for Carbondale’s future. His essay for the Carbondale Times didn’t contain any, his response to the Southern Illinoisan questionnaire wasn’t anything special, and he didn’t return the Shawnee Green Party’s (SGP) questionnaire. Hennrich didn’t seem like a serious candidate, so I dropped him from consideration.

I don’t generally take perennial candidates seriously and, as I recall, this is not Earl Czajkowski’s first run for office. He didn’t return the SGP questionnaire, didn’t submit a candidate essay to the Carbondale Times, and his repsonse to the Southern Illinoisan questionnaire didn’t inspire my confidence. I didn’t consider voting for Czajkowski.

I thought Hugh Williams’ Carbondale Times essay didn’t deal with any relevant issues, and his response to the Southern Illinoisan read like a Tea Party manifesto. He mentioned in his SGP questionnaire that he wants to get rid of parking meters, which is the opposite of what I think we should do. I didn’t consider him a serious candidate, and didn’t consider voting for him.

Rick Jackson didn’t submit an essay to the Carbondale Times and didn’t return the SGP questionnaire. His response to the Southern Illinoisan questionnaire offered no ideas, and he refused to comment on the city budget until he is elected. I didn’t consider him a serious candidate and didn’t consider voting for him. Considering his lackluster campaign, I find it disturbing that he finished in the top six. He does have a lot of community involvement, and that may explain his performance in the primary.

Jessica Bradshaw had some ideas, but I thought several of them were bad ideas. The absolute worst was the idea to turn the strip into a pedestrian mall. First, the businesses on S. Illinois Ave. would never consent to this idea. Second, closing S. Illinois Ave. to car traffic would kill downtown. She also proposes turning the old high school football field into a dog park. I’m not sure that’s possible, as someone owns that property and is planning to build a low income assisted living facility there. Even if she had proposed another site, I’m not convinced a dog park is a good priority in a time when taxes are being raised and services are being cut. I never considered voting for Bradshaw.

Janet Elizabeth Donoghue didn’t return the SGP questionnaire. I didn’t find her Carbondale Times essay especially appealing. She mentioned favoring cottage industry in her Southern Illinoisan questionnaire, which I think is a good idea, but she didn’t mention any specific ideas that might encourage the developments. I didn’t consider voting for Donoghue.

I liked it that Mike Riley provided Spanish language contact information in his Carbondale Times essay, but I thought he was too focused on bike lanes. I didn’t consider voting for Mike Riley.

I did briefly consider voting for Craig Anz. He’s an architecture professor and serves on the Board of Carbondale Main Street, so he looked good at first glance. Then I read his Southern Illinoisan questionnaire response. I thought it was overly abstract and jargon filled. He praised Jane Jacobs, which I liked, but I couldn’t get a sense of the direction he wants Carbondale to take. I dropped Anz from consideration.

Lance Jack was a tough case for me. I defended him when he was forced off the city council last year. I think he provided a valuable counterweight to the puritanical impulses that sometimes overtake the city council. But he has run a lousy campaign. He didn’t submit an essay to the Carbondale Times. He didn’t return the SGP questionnaire. He didn’t even submit his letter requesting reappointment to his old council seat before the deadline. I just couldn’t vote for him this time. I would consider him in April if he runs a better campaign between now and then. At a minimum, he needs to get a campaign website with some policy proposals.

I really liked Candle Wester-Mittan’s idea to work with local banks to negotiate lower interest rates for SIUC and SIH employees who want to buy houses in Carbondale. I hope the next city council pursues the idea. I liked her idea that Carbondale should try to improve the Saluki Express system. I liked her professional experience and affiliation with the University. I didn’t vote for her because there were other candidates I liked a bit better, but I would be perfectly satisfied if she wins in April. If she doesn’t, I hope she will come out for one more try in 2013.

I thought Tom Grant’s Carbondale Times essay and his responses to the Southern Illinoisan and SGP questionnaires were a little lackluster. He didn’t say anything that I strongly disliked, but he didn’t have anything that really drew me in. I consider Grant an acceptable choice, but I could only vote for three candidates and he didn’t make the cut.

I like Don Monty’s experience on the staff side of city government. Monty seems to understand nearly every aspect of the city government and knows his way around a municipal budget. He certainly belongs on the city council. I didn’t vote for him because I am a strategic voter. I felt that he was certain to survive the primary, and that he would definitely finish in the top six, and that he would likely finish in the top three. He finished first. I support his candidacy, but Don Monty didn’t need my vote in the primary, so I used it for someone who needed it more. I expect to vote for Monty in April.

John Holt was the beneficiary of the vote I didn’t want to waste on Don Monty. He doesn’t fit well with my other picks. I thought some of his positions on Carbondale’s fiscal situation were overstated. I voted for Holt mainly because he understands that we are competing with Williamson County for residents and businesses, and because of his experience as a real estate broker. I’m not sure I will vote for him in April, but I did want him to make it through the primary.

I like Lee Fronabarger’s extensive record of community service and I like several of the ideas he has offered in the campaign. I am especially fond of his call for cooperation between the city, and the park and school districts. I don’t like his inclusion of an aquatics center among his top three priorities from Carbondale. I consider an aquatics center a poor use of resources in tight fiscal times. Still, I agree with more of Fronabarger’s positions than I disagree with, so he got my vote. Unfortunately, Fronabarger finished tenth in the primary, so I will probably have to look elsewhere for a candidate to support in the general election.

I mentioned above that there is usually one council candidate in each election who stands out as deserving my vote. In this election, that candidate was Jane Adams. I admire her work in establishing the Arbor District. Adams owns some rental property in Carbondale and, unlike many landlords, she has improved the community by maintaining and improving her properties. She has a professional looking website with  a detailed platform and a blog. I agree with the positions Adams has taken, especially her emphasis on downtown development and neighborhood revitalization. I have seen Adams speak at city council meetings during citizen comments and I have read her letters to the editor. I have always been impressed, and have often wished she would run for council. Now she is, and she got my vote.

For now, I plan to vote for Adams and Monty in April. I’m not sure who will win my third vote. Fronabarger doesn’t seem viable since he did so poorly in the primary. Holt finished seventh, which wouldn’t have allowed him to continue under the old primary system where only six candidates went on to the general election. Looking at the top six, I would only consider Lance Jack and Tom Grant. I hope they will put up campaign websites and get some policy papers online.

Comments are welcome.


Written by The Carbondale Observer

February 24, 2011 at 7:45 am

8 Responses

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  1. Again thanks for your comments on the Council race.

    Unfortunately the nature of the local news media is to largely ignore the Council races and concentrate on the Mayoral contest. Its lazy reporting and obscures the vital role of the City Council in making the important decisions about Carbondale’s governance.

    But, the Council is critical. The trend in the recent primary points to either Lance Jack or Tom Grant as one of the Council members. Tom Grant actually came in third place, just one vote in front of Lance Jack. They each gained around 10% of the recorded vote.

    First, Lance Jack: Lance had a controversial and tumultuous career on the City Council. He was arrested for a DUI, denied a liquor license, and criticized by fellow Council member Mary Pohlmann for “not being of good character”. This blog noted at the time that it was wrong to “impugn Lance Jack’s character”. Nonetheless, it was Jack’s often bizarre behavior that gave some foundation to the charges. He appeared at a Council meeting dressed as an Elvis impersonator and appearing to be intoxicated according to people who were there. He once pursued one of my neighbors into the hallway after a Council meeting and engaged in a shouting match over my neighbor’s (admittedly) ascerbic comments. In light of the lack of participation by the citizens at Council, it was disheartening to see Jack berate this elderly man.

    More substantively, Jack was a ready vote for Brad Cole’s agenda and made up the slim majority that voted in favor of Saluki Way. He was often dismissive of neighborhood issues. In general he seemed undisciplined and lacking in seriousness.

    Then, oddly, something changed. Over the past year Lance has become an effective, even eloquent spokesperson for the Main Street businesses. He resigned from Council to resolve the liquor license issue and is building his business. But, still, his 8 years on Council was not distinguished.

    Tom Grant made very little effort, it appears, in the primary. Yet he was in the top three vote getters. I think that says something about his stature in the community. He was the long time director of Neighborhood Services in the City. I worked with him on code issues on my properties and found him firm but fair. I also found him always willing to return calls or to meet over issues in our community. He was the most highly trained person on the staff, familiar with every code dealing with buildings and construction. Some, however, felt that Tom was too chummy with some of the local landlords. I gauged that as an artifact of a highly engaging personality that probably should have spent more time working than schmoozing. But he put people at ease.

    He was released from the City in a short sighted decision to downsize after 15 years of service. All of that knowledge has been lost to Carbondale.

    He is now in the center of the local farming networks as the proprietor of Mulberry Hill Farm, an organic producer. He has recently secured a contract from the Chicago Public Schools to deliver 36,000 pounds of his organically grown spinach crop.
    As a result, Tom is bringing jobs to the community.He is also advising Attucks Community Services as they establish neighborhood gardens in the Northeast.

    Tom’s success in farming comes at a price for his campaign. This is one of the busiest times of the year as he prepares for Spring.However, I hope that he is able to mount an effective campaign. I believe that his deep knowledge of the neighborhoods would be a significant plus on the Council. In addition his knowledge of food security and local food systems is not replicated with the top candidates for Council.

    One final thought: if Joel Fritzler wins the mayoral contest, a new council person would be appointed. It would mean an unprecedented turnover of five seats, including the Mayor.If you’re looking for a change in the direction of Carbondale, it may be coming.

    D. Gorton

    February 24, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    • Thanks for the great comment. You make a strong case for Tom Grant, and I’m certainly open to voting for him. I’m impressed with the success of his farm. I think local food and specialty farming are great opportunities for economic development and it sounds like Tom Grant is leading the way. I do hope he puts together some campaign literature, ideally on a simple, free website like this one.

      Your point about Fritzler is interesting. My post for tomorrow will be about that.

      The Carbondale Observer

      February 24, 2011 at 11:55 pm

  2. […] a comment » In a comment on yesterday’s post a reader noted that if Joel Fritzler wins the mayoral election it will be […]

  3. Personally, I find it difficult to support Fritzler’s candidacy simply because he has an unfulfilled two-year obligation to his Council seat. Unlike Haynes, he is running with a parachute on his back. In addition, should he win the April election he will be in the enviable position of leading the Council to appoint his own successor for a full two years in that seat.

    I have nothing against Fritzler or his politics, but I’m quite uncomfortable with his candidacy under these conditions.


    February 26, 2011 at 9:56 pm

  4. […] Commission February 25, 2011 Carbondale ObserverWhat if Fritzler Wins? February 25, 2011City Council: Who I Voted for and Why February 24, 2011 WDBXStyle City 2-27-11 February 27, 2011InsomniROCK’s Metal Night! February 27, […]

  5. […] I mentioned previously, I voted for Adams, Fronabarger, and Holt in February’s primary. I didn’t see anything […]

  6. […] when he was driven off the city council last year (see here, here, and here), but last month I expressed some reservations about voting for him. Jack was at his best Wednesday night and he’s certainly back in the […]

  7. […] thing to do, especially considering the extremely close race for third place. On the other hand, I voted for Fronabarger in the primary and might have voted for him in the general if I’d thought he could win. I […]

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